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My experience as a WikiStage Jijel organizer

 In the year 2017, I was just a normal university student.  The highest of my dreams was to get good marks and spend my summer by watching series and going to the beach.       Only one year after, I found myself among the organizing team of the best cultural event in Jijel – the WikiStage. My inspiration to join a WikiStage Community came from other WikiStage events, such as WikiStage Algiers and WikiStage Batna in Algeria, and other events like WikiStage Paris and WikiStage Cairo outside of Algeria.      Since that day, the hard work has started, lack of sleep has come, and the stress got his pick… We got so many neglections, so much ignorance, and so much criticism. But all those obstacles didn’t stop us and didn’t put us down. Those negative sides just made us stronger! The support of our community gave us one more reason to give all our best to make this event happen. We wanted to show them who we are and what the WikiStage really is. The big day was on September 1st, 2018. The day we have been waiting and working hard for - the WikiStage Jijel event day. "Stories Worth Telling" was the theme of our conference. The organizing team started the preparations in the Culture House at 8 AM. The whole team was divided into few smaller teams: team for the check-in, the team for controlling the technical work, the team for organizing the coffee break etc.  At 11 AM, we opened the gate to welcome the audience. We were so surprised when we saw the crowd! We have expected 450, but there were 600 participants, which was a great success for us. The check-in was well organized, the audience was very respectful and was following the instructions. The speakers came on time, as well as the photographers. At 12 PM, as it was planned, the event has begun. The animator started with the opening ceremony and gave the audience extra energy and excitement before the speakers’ WikiTalks.     Everything was according to the program: we had 6 speeches, 2 debates, a coffee break, and a musical performance.    The WikiTalks overcame our expectations.  The speakers gave us a great amount of inspiration and motivation by sharing with us their "stories worth telling". We closed our event with a raffle in which we got eight lucky winners!

The Power of Saying YES to a WikiStage Talk Request!

In 2013 I have taught a Public Speaking course at the Teacher Education College in Southern Algeria. The class was an opportunity for me to help learners be outspoken and use communicative skills for social change. One of the topics that I discussed with my students was the importance of saying “no”. At that time, I was inciting them to say no to tyranny and oppression and also to learn to say no when they are not ready to commit. Often, out of shyness or complacency, we say yes to everything and then under-deliver what we promised.   After that, I left to finish my doctorate at Syracuse University in the US. Towards the end of my stay, I was approached by one of my bright students telling me how transformative “learning to say no" was to her. She said: "I am going to say no to an opportunity that was waiting for me and my team". I said: "Wait!” I changed my mind. After a lot of pondering I discovered that I was wrong. I told her: “Say yes!” Because I came to realize we live in a world with shrinking opportunities. After her apparent confusion, she said: "Sounds great! And by the way, we are organizing a WikiStage event in Djelfa and we would love if you can come and talk". I immediately said “no”. I could see clearly that she was very confused because she was certain I was going to walk the talk and say “yes”. She told me: “First you teach us to say no, now you are telling me to say yes and when I ask you, you say no.” Out of embarrassment and in an effort to be the role model I should be, I said yes and embroiled myself into podium panic!   It took me a long time to choose my title. I wanted a positive topic to navigate the ocean of despair and negativity that I think prevails among Algerian youth scene after the frustrations of the Arab awakening. I wanted a topic that speaks to the audience that shares with me the same impoverished background. The talk location was just 50 km from my birthplace. I was born and raised in a region in Algeria with a lot of poverty, despair, school drop-outs, and deteriorating infrastructure. I wanted to share my success story with one idea that seemed to be the basis for all my breakthroughs.   After a lot of hesitation, I had the “eureka” moment! “The Power of Saying Yes” is a big idea. Fast-forward to the day of the presentation, I talked about how saying yes to helping people, saying yes to opportunities and engagement boomeranged in my life and enriched my CV without initially intending it, diversified my background and led me to where I am today - an education specialist and project manager in leading international institutes. My main cry was: “Say YES, do good things, they will come back and haunt you in a positive way.” When Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook, he did not think of creating a company. I watched him say in one of the interviews: "I was convinced that someone will someday build something like Facebook for the world, but not me". He thought that it would be a company that already had thousands of engineers. He spoke about all the social pressures that he had. But saying yes led him to be a billionaire, and most importantly a game-changer in the 21st century. I concluded my talk by emphasizing the importance of relationships and how treating people with respect and kindness will also boomerang in a very serendipitous way. The last slide was a quote that really changed my life. Mark Twain once said: "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe Harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”   When young activists do this, they’ll have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Only the sky will be the limit!

How to find speakers for your event?

Finding someone who can connect with your audience, be it an entrepreneur, a scientist, an artist, a community leader or a local hero is essential. WikiTalks are at the very heart of WikiStage and it is extremely important to find the right speakers for your event. Before you start, here are two questions to ask yourself:       Who is my audience? Think of what issues or concerns they want to address, what problems they would want to be solved, or what is their passion?   What do you want from your speaker? Decide what you expect them to bring to your event, and how they are going to help you achieve your goals. Is it to motivate, educate or entertain your audience?     When you define answers to these two questions, you are ready to start. Here are some tips on how to find matching speakers for your WikiStage event:    1. Use your own network Your colleagues and friends may be able to refer you to a speaker that they have personally seen in action or they personally know. Also, you could find expert speakers by connecting with organizations and clubs in your field.   2.  Use the Internet Start with searching through your LinkedIn network of mutual contacts, YouTube and other social media. Seek out professionals who are developing content that is being read and shared by readers online.   3. Check your local university Professors can be ideal speakers because they are skilled communicators and educators. Also, many universities have a speakers bureau that connects conferences and event organizers like you with professionals interested in speaking opportunities.   4.  Look to nonprofits in your area Leaders in NGO are often very active in the community and are likely to share their experience. Consider a local nonprofit as a potential resource for a speaker.   5. Attendee feedback Always keep the desires of attendees in mind. Collect attendee feedback to see if they can recommend a speaker they are interested in hearing from.   As an event organizer, you are well aware of the role that speakers can play in the success of your event. Event organizers often tell us that they find it more difficult to find women speakers. Nevertheless, we think is worth the extra effort to look for great female speakers. A good mix and balance is a very enriching ingredient in every WikiStage conference. If you get a line-up of who can deliver excellent content to your audience, then you’re likely to have a very successful event. 

WikiStage in Videos

About WikiStage

Ideas for Change

WikiStage is a global community of people who believe that individuals who speak up can inspire positive change in the world. We believe that our voices can contribute to a world where peace, solidarity, democracy, human rights and the protection of our planet become a reality.

We are an open community and at the heart of our group are the volunteer WikiStage Conference Organisers who until today have organised more than 100 conferences in over 10 countries. If you want to give a stage to people who make the difference, organise a WikiStage Event to amplify their message through our community.

WikiStage.org is run by people like you who create playlists about important issues and nominate speakers to enrich our video platform. Explore WikiStage to get inspired and discover a world of possibilities.

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