Volunteering at TEDxAmsterdam – meet our 'oldest and youngest' volunteer

Saturday 07 July 2018

TEDxAmsterdam wouldn’t be possible without its volunteers. From marketing and communications, to the experience team, to the event day volunteers ushering you to your seat, everyone contributes – not only their time, but also their passion, drive and personality.

To give you some insight into what it’s like to volunteer with us, we thought why not start with a pioneer, Coen Rispens, our “oldest and youngest” volunteer!

When Coen joined TEDxAmsterdam, he was the youngest volunteer on the team, now, ten editions later he is still on board, making him our oldest volunteer too!

In 2014 we shared what the atmosphere was like the evening before our event. A lot of hustle and bustle, volunteers exploring the venue and being briefed on their tasks for the big day. Coen, being the Volunteer Coordinator that year, answered a couple of questions about how he started at TEDx, what the different volunteer positions are and other fun facts and figures.

This November we’re celebrating our tenth edition at our “home base” – the Stadsschouwburg at Amsterdam’s Leidseplein. Coen’s role has changed since 2014, so we thought it was time to catch up again to see what’s happened between now and then, and how he reflects on his own time as volunteer.

Tell us about your journey as a TEDxAmsterdam volunteer?

Coen has held a few different positions, giving him great insight into what it’s like to be part of the TEDxAmsterdam team, starting as a runner in his first year.

“The first year of TEDxAmsterdam I was indeed the very youngest volunteer and possibly even attendee, now I think about it. You can read more about how I got that role in my previous post. But course, the organisation has been growing ever since and you can now apply via someone who is specifically dedicated to volunteers.”

“In my first year, it was super exciting to be there and able to help on various jobs that others didn’t have time to do. I eventually stepped up into volunteer coordination, making it my responsibility to find volunteers, such as runners, ushers, and food crew. It gave me a lot of joy to see others as excited as I was in the role I previously held.”

“More recently, I’ve been involved in creating our new website. This has had many phases. We started an open source project, held a hackathon, and brought in one of our event partners as development lead. The result is something to we’re proud of, the website you’re reading this on right now!”

What is your most cherished memory as a volunteer over the years?

“Each year has great memories, talks that make an impact, crazy livestream scenarios like ice skating while watching talks with headphones, or watching a laser show outside on a building.”

“One of my stand out memories is Christien Meindertsma’s talk about her research on all the products that are made from a pig. It was so different, I learnt a lot. She also brought along some of her books about this research, and I was lucky enough to receive the last signed copy.

“Speakers are always very approachable. It’s great to be able to talk with them.”


Many volunteers return year after year, or take a break and then come back. Why do you think the event is so infectious, attracting them to stay involved?

“If you look through the images that have been taken over the years – especially at the end of the event – you see so much joy among the volunteers. You see a group of around 100 people that had a long, tiring, but very successful, inspiring and downright fun day."

"Everyone works hard, and seeing that work pay off is an unbeatable reward! We receive many messages from volunteers after the event and during the afterparty that reflect this.

Coen adds that not only is being a volunteer great personal and professional experience, but you get to expand your network and learn along the way.

“TEDxAmsterdam is like a playground where you learn new skills and get to work actively with others on an exciting project.”

“Generally, volunteers get to see some of the talks on stage too, and have the opportunity to talk to many people on the day.

“It’s also common for attendees to provide feedback and thanks to volunteers during the event, telling them how much they’re enjoying the event or what a great job the team is doing. So it’s impossible not to get swept up in the electric environment!”


Want to volunteer for TEDxAmsterdam 2018?

If you’re considering joining our team as a volunteer, we hope Coen’s insights has given you some extra inspiration. You can keep it simple by applying for an on-the-day role, or there are opportunities to get involved earlier, leading up to our event in November.  Please contact our Volunteers Team to let us know how you want to contribute to making our anniversary edition a milestone event!


- written by Evelyn Grunau

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