Conference Countdown

Thanks to Instagram, countdowns have become a necessity to create excitement for anything you do these days. Since our conference is only 5 days away, we wanted to share our own countdown of tips, tricks and some advice when putting on your own conference or event!

5 social media tricks - Jordan Beresford (Social Media and Content Manager)

  1. Build a content calendar around key dates. A content calendar will help to keep you organized and provide your entire team with visibility into what is being launched and when. Key dates could be something as simple as promoting that there’s 1 week before your event, but it could also be aligned to key program dates (ie. workshops) or launch dates for other content your team is creating (ie. blogs).  

  2. Use tools to help you schedule and post your content. Hootsuite is great for LinkedIn and Twitter. Facebook allows you to schedule posts natively within the platform and Later is great for Instagram. Scheduling posts allows you to focus on engaging with followers, rather than spending all your time publishing.

  3. Hashtag. Hashtag. Hashtag. When building your channels (and your following) it’s important to increase the visibility of your posts. A great way to do that is to include hashtags relevant to your event (ie. #tedx, #conference), as well as your event’s location (ie. #donmills, #toronto). A great app to help you find top performing and relevant hashtags is hashtagger.

  4. Keep the end user in mind. When creating content, it’s always important to balance the objectives from your team (ie. selling event tickets) with what your followers actually want to see (cool interesting content). Putting tons of text on a visual for your Instagram feed may not resonate with your followers. Look at the type of content that’s typically posted on Instagram and follow suit. Beautiful content is what people like to see there, so curate beautiful photography and put the information in the copy section of the post. You want to keep your followers engaged and ultimately to become ambassadors for your event. The way to their hearts is through great content, full stop.

  5. Lastly, leverage your team. Ensure that your entire team is sharing your content out to their followers. When we say team, we also mean speakers, performers, volunteers, etc. It’s important to cast as wide of a net as possible to grow your followership and increase the views and engagement on your posts. We also suggest putting together guidelines for your team so that they understand which hashtags to use and the guard rails they should be following when posting content. Perception and reputation are everything on social media.

4 tips for developing a Successful Content Strategy - Fiona Mascarenhas (Director of Creative and Content)

  1. Content is King- The most important element of a content strategy is, of course, the content. Before creating a content strategy, the first step is to evaluate your content. What type of content will you or your team create? Will it be long-form content or short, snackable pieces? Evaluating your content and reflecting on your brand’s tone is an important factor of your content strategy. It helps you plan for the journey your content will take on the internet. In order for your content strategy to be successful, your content needs to be creative and useful to your target audience.

  2. Build a home for your content- Then developing a content strategy, the next step is to determine where your content will live. If you’ve planned for long-form content, perhaps having it live on a blog and then sharing the links on social media would be a good user journey. Alternatively, if you’re creating bite-size, snackable content, picking a social media platform that aligns to your goals would be the better option. There are lots of options in platforms so make sure to pick one that resonates with your audience and will help you build an engaged community.

  3. Plan your content (all of it)- A successful content strategy is dependent on a content calendar. Scheduling your content and planning ahead will help keep you organized and on track to achieve your goals. It will also help your audience get into a rhythm of engaging with your content. For example, if you plan to put out YouTube videos every week, your audience will learn to expect that from you, instead of having to check in when you create videos sporadically. 

  4. Create for people, not likes- The last step in creating a successful content strategy is to plan around building a community. Your audience is not just your followers or viewers, they are people so engage with them and if they take time out of their day to respond to your content, make sure you reply back. Having an engaged audience should be the first goal of your content strategy followed by views, sales, or any other similar metric.

3 things to keep in mind when designing Conference Graphics - Zunash Ashiq Ali (Graphic Designer)

  1. TEDx brand guide is your go to for every deliverable, on the TEDx website, the brand guide  is easily available for all the Graphic Designers who are a part of the TEDx family. It is important to follow it religiously to create your TEDx version. The usage of correct Pantone and fonts is another important part that needs to be incorporated in all the deliverables for constancy. Remember that our audience is going to see these graphics before, during and after the event as well, so it is important that they all look cohesive.

  2. Keep it simple and clean. The look of your print and digital deliverables follows as another integral part of the Conference graphics. Usage of the right kind of imagery and shapes is as important as using the right font and colour. At TEDxDonMills we have tried to maintain a minimalistic and futuristic look for all the deliverables that represent our theme. Eye catching and compelling graphics will not only help the audience get attracted but also help them stop by and take time to read the information you wish to deliver to them.

  3. Teamwork is the key to success: Last but not the least, teamwork! Always liaise with the whole marketing team. As a graphic designer, it is very important to know about the content and marketing plans so you can work in the same direction to achieve common goals in a timely manner and to stay up to date in delivery and performance. Sometimes it may get frustrating working with several other teams and gathering the information you require to complete your work but just like any other successful event design there are great rewards at the end so keep patient, persistent and positive. It is my pleasure to be a part of such a great team where every single person is there to support.

2 effective email marketing tactics (Ivy Chen - Digital Campaign Manager)

  1. It is always important to have consistent messaging across the board; your emails should coincide with what is written on social media and what’s on the website. Always work with your team to strategize the best way to deliver the message consistently and effectively but not to the point where your readers find it repetitive. Whatever is written on social media can be a gateway or teaser to your email while your email should be detailed with consolidated information; your subscribers will always have your email to refer back to.

  2. Don’t be afraid to be yourself with your emails! Delivering the right information and message is important but don’t let that stop you from showing some personality. An engaging email is one that allows the reader to connect with the writer and incorporating your personality will get you there! 

...and finally 1 piece of advice from our Marketing Lead! Jessica Stephens - (Co-Executive Lead, Marketing)

  1. Work with a team that has the skills you need to be successful!  There are so many things that you’ll be doing for the first time and there will me many you will have no clue how to do at all! While we can learn how to do just about anything with a google search bar, that takes time! So instead of frustrating yourself in attempting do everything, bring in people who know how to do key things to take the pressure off!  Hire a designer!  Get someone who is a social media wizard! If email marking is beyond your brain capacity, let someone else who know how to do it, do it! Marketing for this first conference was a success because we brought in the talent who know how to do key things really well and we focused on those! Marketing can be complex and confusing, when you try to do to much.

We hope to have inspired you with some tips and tricks to when putting on an event but now that the conference is so close, it’s time for us to get down and dirty and iron out the final details! If you are joining us on Saturday, we are so excited for you to experience a day of exploration and mind-blowing conversation. See you soon!

Meet the Community Engagement, Partnerships and Project Management Team!

They say you can define community by the shared attributes of the people in it or by the strength of the connections among them. The importance of community has not only been a driving force behind our main goal of TEDxDonMills but also a defining reason of why our team is extremely passionate behind bringing this project of Designing Tomorrow to life in Don Mills.

The teams behind Community Engagement, Partnerships and Project Management have shared what community means to them, and how it has shaped their TEDxDonMills experience thus far.

Question: What have you learned from the Community of Don Mills?

Naomi Litowitz (Director of Strategy and Planning): I’ve learned that with blended communities comes varied perspective. A community like Don Mills has more diversity and more perspective than most. With that, comes phenomenal possibility. And I for one, can’t wait to see what this community designs for tomorrow.

Jan Tiff Perez (Project Control Officer): I realized that the Community of Don Mills is distinct. The initial noticeable characteristic is the cluster of modern buildings and high-rise condominiums. But if you take a closer look, there are actually many residential areas for Canadians of different backgrounds. Don Mills is a reflection of what Canada is about, a melting pot of cultures. It is also the home for a significant number of senior citizens.

Danish Karmally (Manager of Partnerships): I believe Don Mills is a perfect example of how people of different backgrounds, age and religion can live in a caring and peaceful environment. Even though I’ve only lived in the Don Mills area for a few months now, I’m in love with the area and the people within it. I can’t think of a better community to be a part of.

Jason Chong (Project Manager): What I’ve learned from the Community of Don Mills is that it is a diverse and lively community that continues to grow as a central hub in the city.  Don Mills is central to our city with an up-and-coming Eglinton Light Rail, new condo developments, and an expansion of business including those at The Shops at Don Mills.  The key attractions in the community include the Hiking Trails with Rainbow Trail, Fairview Mall, Ontario Science Centre, and the Aga Khan Museum. I’ve learned more about the community in the past year from living nearby (East York) and spending time at the local restaurants and grocery shops. The diversity of the people, the collaboration of the community, and the urban investment brings further excitement to the community.

Rahim Rahim (Director of Branding): I have learnt that the Don Mills Community is a cohesive melting pot from all walks of life.  The people are passionate and love being part of the community. Look around and you will see key landmarks such as community centres, churches, mosques, museums, cultural centres, restaurants, and government and civil society learning centres.  In these places, community members are learning, playing, eating, praying, and loving each other. These are the signs of a forward-looking community driving positive change.

Hafiz Kanji (Executive Director of Partnerships): The community is really diverse and it has changed a lot in the last 5-10 years. There seems to be a new sense of pride to say “I’m from Don Mills”. The community is also extremely resilient, able to adapt to rapid change and gentrification of neighbourhoods.


Question: In your opinion how does the importance of having a strong community impact our tomorrow?

Naomi Litowitz (Director of Strategy and Planning): We only live on this earth as individuals within larger communities. We’re nothing without both the support and contribution to those communities.

Jan Tiff Perez (Project Control Officer): Creating a change requires collective action. Having a strong community empowers individuals to achieve an exponential effect.

Danish Karmally (Manager of Partnerships):  It makes a HUGE difference. By having a strong community, where you can grow, learn and contribute, you can stay motivated since everyone around you will be on the same wavelength as you and will also contribute to the cause.

Jason Chong (Project Manager): The importance of having a strong community impacts our tomorrow since it defines the direction for which we shape our future.  A community has an influence on reinforcing values and encouraging investment as the local population stimulates the need for investment. In turn, we work with our local changemakers, influencers, and politicians to shape and build our essentials and desires for the community.

Rahim Rahim (Director of Branding): A strong community is the foundation of a healthy community.  A community in which diversity is seen as a strength. Where curiosity drives creative solutions and supportive people help each other because it is the right thing to do.  It is about setting up the youth for success as the success of tomorrow is determined by the youth of today.

Hafiz Kanji (Executive Director of Partnerships) : A group of people is always stronger than an individual. Having a strong community is important to ensuring their voices are heard. A strong community is also important for providing a sense of belonging, as the world becomes more connected, we are seeing fewer real connections. A strong community is important to ensure that people never feel like they are alone.

Overall Designing Tomorrow is an exciting platform for diverse people and organizations to make a difference in our community for generations to come.  It is predicated on the belief that we all have a purpose and the ability to shape the future we want to see. We’re thrilled to be a part of this team and holding such a great experience within this community.  

Meet the Conference Design Team

I was asked to write a blog on myself, but there is more to me than just my name. I’m Conference Design, and this is a blog on how I became. Sometimes I’m hard to manage and there’s so many aspects I have to cover, I’ll take you through the flow of how TEDxDonmills will be on top of your Instagram’s Discover!

Before I share the names of my best friends, I’d like to give thanks and mention my sisters: I love you Program Design, Marketing and Communications, Partnership, Community Engagement, Program Design, and obviously, the Chair, but I’ll still beat you all in a game of Twister. My team consists of 5 brilliant superstars, from the food we’ll consume, to the artists we will enjoy, the one who has designed the experience, to the two leads who started it all. The theme, Designing Tomorrow, means a lot as I figure my life out, here are how my friends think I’ll become the brightest of the stars.  

Let’s start with the two who have helped me grow from the start, Erika and Mobeen, who are the Executive Leads. I’ll go ahead and share their conference flow chart!

We hope you bring your smiles early in the morning to get your name tags, tote bags, and high fives from my team – if you come a little earlier than early, enjoy some breakfast, so you don’t daydream!

We’ll start with the talks (a line-up so mind-boggling and interesting) to watching some performers hit the stage to take us into their frequency. After two quarters we’ll enter our lunch, even though I don’t have a stomach, I feel for you and understand you’ll need the energy, unless you’ve had a brunch.

My friends have invited many community friends who hope to engage with you all and bring you opportunity. This is the time I want you to talk to one another (a new friend, maybe), as I wish this is a start for you to find something beyond your dreams, so enter in attempt to reach for the stars together, share your ideas and finally become a team.

We will all enter my wonderful stage for the second half to continue our line-up, and like the Raptors, we hope to win you like Lowry hitting the three to win the matchup. The fourth quarter will make me the saddest, as all the hard work my family as put in will come for closure. But when something ends, that’s the beginning of something even BIGGER.

The day will end with a bang, I won’t tell you every detail as of now, but let’s just say all my family and friends will then take their final bow. As you leave my auditorium, you all will have a chance to explore the wondrous Aga Khan Museum, the place I call my home, which I hope will leave you with a sense of gratitude and sense of hope.

Together, let’s enter this journey, talk after talk, we’ll walk through the museum with our ideas on lock. Let’s work together, encouraging dialogue, because trust me, as we Design our Tomorrow, we’ll want to make sure no one remains in the fog.

Now that we know about the flow, let me share a little more about the team. To learn more about my friends, I asked them a few questions on how this journey has been!

What does Designing Tomorrow mean to you?

Larysa (Director of Conference Design)

Through designing the conference experience, we were looking to achieve a few messages using, colour, symbols, and the museum space. The message was to convey the idea that the future is super close and we can all influence it together by sharing our ideas through various forums, but effectively through TEDx. For me one of the symbols of the conference is the ‘Red Door’; It’s a portal to the future in the traditional TEDx colours, the delegates will be able to use this ‘door to the future’ by taking pictures and interacting with it!

Hina (Director of Catering)

The theme, Designing Tomorrow, to me means freedom and innovation. It allows individuals to express their ideas, beliefs and research and share it with the world. Being able to speak openly about any topic one chooses is empowering. Listening to these forums and videos allows us to understand and expand our knowledge beyond our own experiences and to see topics from a different perspective.

Amyna (Director of Arts)

The theme of Designing Tomorrow is weaved through all of the performances throughout the day. We have a line-up of performers that span various age groups and that come from a multitude of places and cultural backgrounds. Each piece sheds light upon the beauty of our individual identities, whilst celebrating the importance of mutual respect and the strength of our collective diversity.

What are some of your passions or something you wish to do in the next 10 years?

Larysa (Director of Conference Design)

In the next 10 years, I hope to be hiking through the parks in Canada, breathing unpolluted Toronto air and knowing that people have worked together to cure cancer and prevent diabetes – and that the TTC has become the best public transportation system in the world!

Hina (Director of Catering)

I am passionate about food, technology and people. I hope to be able to combine my passions and create a difference in the world by bringing people together and thinking of innovative ideas to improve our future.

Amyna (Director of Arts)

One of my deepest passions is expressing myself through the art form of dance. In the next 10 years, I hope to continue to feed this passion not only as a stage performer but also as a student, a mentor and an art curator. I hope to continue learning about production, strengthen my storytelling skills as well as my technical abilities in various forms of dance and provide a platform for others to do the same (just as TEDxDonMills is doing).

Ah, aren’t my friends just fascinating? I’m sure you want to know them, be friends with them, that’s all that I’m saying. But that’s all from me, for now that is - no more delaying.

ConfDev, signing out here, have to get back to planning, so Mobeen and Erika, hit the snare.

*bah dam tisssss*

Meet the Program Design Team

In just one month, many of you will be watching TEDxDonMills come to life. 12 inspiring, uplifting speakers will go on stage one by one and give you something new to think about, a new perspective, a bit of new knowledge and hopefully inspire you to do something differently-however small that thing is- to make an impact in your life and the lives of others as we spend the day thinking about “Designing Tomorrow”. The experience will be a transformative one for you.

We as the Program Design team, a group of volunteers who have been involved in selecting speakers, helping speakers to build out their talks and bring our theme of Designing Tomorrow to life, have also been transformed by our experience. Sitting together we had an opportunity to ask each other questions and today invite you into our chat.


Question: What about Designing Tomorrow excites you the most?

Neha (Program Design Manager): What excites me the most about “Designing Tomorrow” is the intersection between various domains that make up the design of tomorrow. When people think “Designing Tomorrow”, the first thought that comes to mind is technology, but our tomorrow, the tomorrow we want to live in, is so much bigger than that. It’s about community, economy, inclusivity, healthcare, environment, and education. Understanding the intersectionality of these domains within the context of Don Mills, within the context of Canada, is an eye-opening experience. I truly believe that regardless of who you are and what you do, you are a designer of tomorrow, because tomorrow is a product of everything we’re doing today. 

Question: Why does Designing Tomorrow matter?

Jessie (Program Team Coordinator): In modern society, everyone relies on the tangible substance for a living for sure. But I have always believed that there must be a certain degree of the internal drive to desire more or less to become a better version of yourself and be surrounded people who share the same values and perspectives. So when it comes to Designing Tomorrow, off the top of my head, it is the reason to create all the possibilities and have you captivated at all proximities.

Question: What are these speakers going to bring to the Don Mills community?

 Noureen (Co-Executive Lead): The Don Mills community is very special. It is composed of people from all walks of life who truly care about the community around them and have a fire inside them to make the world a better place - for their families, for those in need within their communities, and for the broader global community. When I think of Don Mills, I think of a mosaic of all different types of people who are bound together by many more things that make them the same than those that make them different. Our speakers will touch the community through their human connection. What I love is that every single speaker has a topic that approaches Designing Tomorrow through a different perspective, but each of them will be able to connect with each member of the audience on a truly human level. Of course our speakers will bring their domain expertise, they will teach us something new, share a grand idea worth spreading - but more than that, I promise that you will be moved by their personal journeys, their own ‘why’ and their passion for the work they do.

Question: What is one thing that is most important to keep in mind when Designing Tomorrow?

Alykhan (Co-executive Lead): I believe that inclusion is one of the most important things to keep in mind when talking about Designing Tomorrow. Inclusion is a term that is often misunderstood and commonly used as a synonym for diversity. The Institute for Canadian Citizenship, a national organization focused on building inclusive societies says that “Diversity is a reality, inclusion is a choice”. We must choose inclusion when developing the strategies that will design tomorrow. An inclusive society is one in which diversity is treasured and a sense of belonging for all is the ultimate goal.

Question:  What excites you most about the speakers?

Sheri (Speaker Development Manager): It has been an absolute honour to watch brilliance in action as each speaker works diligently to bring bring their idea worth spreading to the TEDxDonMills stage.  While also being brilliant they are thoughtful, passionate and everyday people.  What I have been able to see of their talks so far makes me inspired to consider how I might impact the world around me with my own idea.  I am really looking forward to seeing the impact of their words on stage for the audience and how it might inspire the community to act.

Question: Describe your experience on the TEDxDonMills team so far.

Alykhan (Co-executive Lead): My experience on this team has been a truly amazing and eye-opening one. It has been an honour to work with such talented people who share the same values and hopes for our future. Our speakers illustrate how anyone can make a difference and in fact true change can only happen when we have people from all walks of life, with varying skills and experiences coming together for a common cause. I can’t wait to see the meeting of these minds on February 9th, 2019 as we embark on the journey of Designing Tomorrow! 

Sheri (Speaker Development Manager): I have been privileged to work with a group of talented speaker coaches who are helping each speaker craft their message and bring their idea to life.  The experience that each coach brings to the table, their willingness to push the speakers out of comfort zones but to also support them has been amazing to witness.   It makes me even more excited to watch the final product on February 9th.

Noureen (Co-Executive Lead): This team brings me joy. Watching talented people learn, grow, contribute, collaborate and create something more special than what we could have imagined on our own is rewarding and magical. From conception of this crazy idea of building TEDxDonMills, to engaging with the community, to the application process, to building the teams, to leading the program design, to facilitating the curation panel, to contributing to discussions across our portfolios to working with our amazing speakers, chatting with them for hours pushing them out of their comfort zone into a place of creativity and brilliance, I have enjoyed every minute - and the best is yet to come!

Jessie (Program Team Coordinator): I found out each person of the team always makes time for the program, every detail of the program regardless of how busy we all are, starting from how to create a spreadsheet to how we make a better speaker experience. Also, we tried our best to connect with each other in person, offline, related to this program or even related to our personal lives to make sure that no one is left behind and everyone will be supportive to each other.

Neha (Program Design Manager): I found reviewing the speaker applications, and interacting with all the applicants a humbling experience. The caliber of every applicant - their thoughts, their ideas, further cemented my belief that the person standing next to me in the subway, or ordering a coffee behind me at Tim Hortons, is a brilliant changemaker and designer of tomorrow. The applicants were ordinary people for the most part, living their lives day-to-day, but trust me when I say almost all of them had ideas that were life-changing. I’m fortunate and thankful that I had the opportunity to read those ideas and understand them.

 We hope that we were able to give you some insights into our journey and the hard work that is put in to bringing you an unforgettable experience. We encourage you to be volunteers in your communities and see the transformation it brings you. If you are attending TEDxDonMills on February 9th at the Aga Khan Museum, please come say hello!

Share your ideas about designing affordable housing and win!

We chose the theme Designing Tomorrow because it acknowledges that our tomorrow is a direct response to our present. This year, our curated group of change-makers are going to spread their individual journey, vision and progress on how they are making leaps into transforming the future. They are allowing us to see their tomorrow from a new perspective discussing a wide range of topics from technological innovations to human expression on both a local and global scale.

Though we are so excited to hear from our group of speakers, we also know that each one of us has a hand in what that future will look like. 

Check out this contest, brought to you by a community group, on how you can win tickets to TEDxDonMills Designing Tomorrow, by sharing your thoughts on how you would Design Tomorrow’s affordable housing in Toronto.

10 Winners will have the opportunity to win tickets to the Designing Tomorrow Conference on February 9th at the Aga Khan Museum!


Our TEDxDonMills Journey


Written by Sameer Ali on behalf of the TEDxDonMills team

A beautiful representation of all Canada has to offer, the Don Mills community is a true gem.

Drive around and you will see the beauty of diversity. From the first homes of many new Canadian immigrants to the established communities of Canadians living here for generations. From schools scattered throughout neighbourhoods to the large young professional population, to the multitude of retirement homes. From the active non-profit organizations to the involved private sector, to the investment the city is putting in infrastructure. From the Ontario Science Centre to the Aga Khan Museum and the community hubs of a variety of cultural communities.

This is also a community of crossroads. It is a community of opportunity. Globally, we are also at a crossroads of sorts, and at a point of opportunity. This is a time of great change, of technological advancements, of advanced knowledge, but also at times, of divide – cultural, generational, and socioeconomic. Now is when we decide to be on the side of history that learns, asks questions, empathizes, includes, acts.

Earlier this year, I started with a vision. I wanted to bring the TED vision and mission to this community that is currently in a special place in its history. Now is the time for those within and outside this community to come together, share ideas and act together to shape its future. We passionately believe in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately the world. But this cannot be done alone.

My vision soon became a shared vision - TEDxDonMills. Our theme for this year, inspired by our vision, became Designing Tomorrow. The Aga Khan Museum joined as our venue partner as we shared similar values of bringing people together to share knowledge, create dialogue and inspire positive change. A dedicated, passionate and unbelievably talented team was formed, each bringing their expertise and hours and hours of hard work to making this vision come true.

We soon realized this became bigger than ourselves, TEDxDonMills was inspiring others across the community to come together, to join our community of change-makers.

My team and I have carefully and purposefully worked to curate an exceptional group of change-makers who will inspire us from the stage through thought-provoking talks, each from a different view of Designing Tomorrow that is both locally and globally relevant – and widely relatable to all of us as human beings. Each speaker brings something unique on their own, but together they make magic.

 We hope you will join us to share ideas, to engage, to be inspired, to take action. To talk to those who are different than you, to learn from those who have different perspectives and experiences than you. To be inspired by those who have big ideas to share.    

When you join us at TEDxDonMills, you will forever be a part of our community of change-makers. Whether you live in Don Mills or not, you, through your presence and engagement are helping to create positive change. Please help us spread the word - share with your friends, colleagues, and families.