The program is the heart of the heart of the BC Experience so it’s important to craft it with care. Think of us as artists and our program as a work of art that needs all the pieces in the right places to shine.
Create your BC Experience program
To capture the spirit of a Blind Cafe Experience, we'll need you to follow the BC Experiences's own program structure – it has evolved over 7 1/2 years of Blind Cafe Experiences.
Here are some basic principles to follow:
- Start strong: You'll want to open people's minds right from the start – so be sure your event has a very strong opening.
- Mix it up: We break up the program with an warm and cozy arrival experience, an adventurous entrance into the dark, a community building breaking of bread over dinner in the dark, a word from the chef, a powerful Q&A/discussion with the legally blind staff, a dark chocolate treat and a moving music in the dark concert. Finale' is the lighting of the candle, where everyone is brought back to the light.
- End with emotion: We save the most gripping part of the experience, speakers, dark chocolate and music for the end. This is when our attendees are most open to being moved. It will leave them with a feeling that will stay with them – maybe even motivate them to action.
*Additional WOW's to bring into the experience: bag pipe player ( surprise performance ), guest artists &/or musicians, speakers, theater audio show
Program sessions + schedule
Most people can enjoy the challenge of being in the dark for about 90-120 minutes max till they are getting too anxious, need to use the restroom and may leave 'blown away' but with a feeling that was a bit of an endurance.
We want them to leave wanting more should so when they think about coming back they we're in the dark just long enough. It's like a yoga class, if your in the yoga heated class for about 1 hour, it's challenging but not too challenging. You come out having pushed through a comfort zone. An hour and half yoga class is too much, at least I come too wiped out. We don't want that. We want them coming out happy they took the yoga class.
Note: All TEDx events begin with the short, official video introduction featuring TED Curator Chris Anderson. It ensures your audience understands what TEDx is and the difference between TEDx and TED. After the video, your host will introduce the first session.
Speakers and performers
There are few things to keep in mind when it comes to scheduling speakers:
- Talks may be no longer than 18 minutes. This is the maximum length, not the goal of every talk. TED often asks speakers to present for 3, 5, or 9 minutes, so make sure your speaker knows how much time they have.
- Take into account the length of each talk or performance when deciding which session to place each specific speaker/performer in.
- Consider using performances as “palate cleansers" between serious or slower talks.
As long as you encourage your speakers and performers to stay within time limits, you should be in great shape!
Playing TED Talks
When it comes to playing pre-recorded TED Talks for your audience:
For a full day event, one out of every four talks—or 25 percent of your total content—must be made up of official, pre-recorded TED Talks (talks featured on TED.com).
For events less than half a day (two 90-minute sessions) in length, a minimum of two official TED Talks must be shown.
Try to choose the TED Talks for each session based on that particular session’s theme, but don’t try to make too strong of a connection; let the audience make their own.
Note: Each TED Talk video should be introduced by the host the same way the live speakers are: with an introduction of the speaker and their specialty. (More detail below.)
Plan compelling breaks
All TEDx events, regardless of length, should have breaks between sessions. People need time to think about what they’ve seen (and use the restroom).
To make the most of time in between sessions, we highly recommend that you:
Provide food and drinks - Ideally, you should offer full meals (or at least the chance to purchase a meal) during breaks that coincide with breakfast, lunch or dinner time. Make filling snacks, coffee, and water always available.
Set up activities - Create stations with hands-on activities. These can be related to your speakers’ topics, local interests, or even feature your sponsors’ projects. We’ll talk more about this in Audience + Experience.
Aside from breaks between sessions, it’s important to keep a comfortable pace during each session. This is why we leave 15 minute cushions for each session, and also encourage introductions, interludes, and palate cleansers between talks, videos, and performances. Here are some examples:
Play brief non-“talk” videos - Short videos can act as the perfect bridges between two talks. Just don’t forget to obtain the rights to anything you use.
Get up and stretch - In the middle of your second or third session, have your host ask the guests stand up and stretch. It’s a good way to keep things casual, and clear the mind before the next talk.
Your host’s responsibilities
Your host has a big role to play in making sure the program goes smoothly, so make sure that they know their responsibilities. This includes:
Introductions - The host provides short intros of the speakers, videos and other parts of your program. 30 seconds is a good length for each intro. Introductions should tease, but not reveal, what each speaker will say.
Time-keeping - The host keeps speakers on track by enforcing time limits and encouraging quick transitions.
Troubleshooting - The host responds quickly to technical difficulties or delays in the program, and is able to help speakers rapidly resolve technical glitches.
Announcements - The host announces all “housekeeping” announcements and changes to the program.
Connections - The host helps link onstage content with the event’s theme, drawing connections to fuel conversation during the session breaks.
Audience participation - The host encourages the audience to engage with the speakers through applause, laughter, etc. A lively audience is not only more fun for speakers to speak to, but also plays better in video recordings. Set up a positive feedback loop early on in your event. Your speakers and your attendees will thrive on it!
TEDx Adventures Blind Cafe Production & Program Schedules
Production Schedule ~ TEDx + Blind Cafe
8:00 AM ~ DARK CREATION
11:00 AM ~ CHEF + VOLUNTEERS PREPARE DIINER
1:00 PM ~ SOUND SETUP BY SOUND ENGINEER
2:00 PM ~ SOUND CHECK WITH BAND
3:00 PM ~ DARKNESS COMPLETED
3:00 PM ~ VOLUNTEERS SETUP LOBBY & DINING SPACE
4:45 PM ~ BLIND STAFF ARRIVE & LEARN ROOM
5:45 PM ~ PLATING OF FOOD
5:30 PM ~ TEDx BLIND CAFE & VOLUNTEERS READY TO OPEN DOORS
5:40 PM ~ GUESTS ARRIVE & BEGIN SHOW ONE
Program Schedule ~ Audience + Experience
(2) shows | 6:00pm & 8:45pm | doors 5:30pm/8:15pm | 50# ppl per show
Show One: Event Schedule
5:45 - 6:00 ~ ARRIVAL & WINE & APPETIZERS
6:00 - 6:10 ~ ANNOUNCEMENTS
6:10 - 6:25 ~ SEATING
6:25 - 6:30 ~ WELCOME & WORD FROM THE CHEF
6:30 - 6:50 ~ BREAKING OF BREAD/DINNER IN THE DARK
6:50 - 7:15 ~ Q & A w/ BlIND STAFF
7:15 - 7:30 ~ DARK CHOCOLATE DESSERT
7:30 - 8:00 ~ MUSIC IN THE DARK & FINALE'
8:00 - 8:10 ~ CANDLE IS LIT + CLOSING REMARKS ( Guests In The Light )
8:10 - 8:20 ~ GUESTS DEPART & CONNECT TEDx/BC STAFF IN LOBBY
[TEDx / BC production crew reset dining room]
Show Two: Event Schedule
8:30 - 8:45 ~ ARRIVAL & WINE & APPETIZERS
8:45 - 8:55 ~ ANNOUNCEMENTS
8:55 - 9:10 ~ SEATING
9:10 - 9:15 ~ WELCOME & WORD FROM THE CHEF
9:15 - 9:25 ~ BREAKING OF BREAD/DINNER IN THE DARK
9:25 - 9:45 ~ Q & A w/ BlIND STAFF
9:45 - 10:00 ~ DARK CHOCOLATE DESSERT
10:00 - 10:30 ~ MUSIC IN THE DARK & FINALE'
10:30 - 10:40 ~ CANDLE IS LIT + CLOSING REMARKS ( Guests In The Light )
10:40 - 10:50 ~ GUESTS DEPART & CONNECT TEDx/BC STAFF IN LOBBY
[ Detailed Break Down ]
- Guests arrive to candle lit entrance way
Guests are instructed to go to:
a. turn phones off & put watches in purse or pocket
b. use bathroom
c. enjoy a glass of wine
d. wait for announcements
As soon as guests have all done the above, we’ll start announcements immediately
"Welcome to The Blind Cafe Experience”
Agreements 1#: No Light ( cell phones, watches )
Agreements 2#: Ring Bell 1# = Active Listening & Participation ( Q&A + Music )
Breaking Bread ~ How to navigate your dinner: a. locate individual food b. silverware/napkins/water c. Breaking of Bread
Dietary Issues - "Please see after these announcements and we will accommodate your dietary needs.”
Safety: a. buddy system ( check in on each other through event ) b. how to ask for help c. navigating challenge being in dark: take deep breath
Seating Process Explained “We will now take groups of 6 - 8 person at a time & blind staff bring you to your table in the dark”
Quick & Safe Seating Process
operations manager will organize groups of 6 - 8 persons & bring to darkness entrance to hand to blind staff
blind staff introduce themselves and bring guests into the dark to their tables
soon as guests are seated, we’ll set a timer for 15 minutes to give guests time to enjoy & socialize in the dark
DINING IN THE DARK
Social Dinner Experience
Blind Staff are monitoring the tables in rounds to make sure everyone is okay emotionally or needs anything
Guests are left to connect on their own, break bread together and get adjust to the darkness.
Q & A w/ BlIND STAFF
Question & Answer w/ Blind Staff
Bell Ring 1# - Lead Blind Keynote Speaker rings bell and welcomes guests to Blind Cafe
Producer sets timer for 20 minutes
Q&A will be monitored for an estimate of 20 - 25 minutes
Lead Blind Staff Introduces self and other staff who will share 1-minute about themselves and their blindness
Blind Staff take questions from audience and guide discussion
20 Minute Timer Goes Off - Producer let’s Lead Blind Speaker Rick Hammond know to take 1 more questions, perform his spoken word poetry & wrap up for dessert
Dessert Is Served
Dessert will be served to each table in one basket to share
Lead Blind Speaker brings dessert to guests
Blind Staff assist anyone for bathrooms or other needs
MUSIC IN THE DARK & FINALE'
Music In The Dark & Finale’
CANDLE IS LIT + CLOSING REMARKS ( Guests Are In The Light Now )
Lighting of the Candle & Closing Remarks
At the peak moment when the song The Light has ended - Performer or Producer Lights The Candle bring everyone back to the light.
Once the candle is lit, we can follow up with any additional questions
Blind Cafe Team/Staff thanks audience
- TEDx Adventure guests departs & TEDx / Blind Cafe team clean up