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The People Behind The Professionals: The Story Of Our TEDxke

Every year, over 300 Xebians attended our annual TED-style Xebia Knowledge Exchange (TEDxke). An event jam-packed with stories from our people, for our people. After this great evening, we asked speakers Nataliia, Juan, Gero, Reinier, and Jochem (from left to right) for a recap of our most memorable knowledge-sharing event. 

speakers TEDxke

A Real Show

After being unable to get together for a while, we were so excited about this event! For many colleagues, it was even their first TEDxke. "I didn't expect such a large-scale event. It was a real show, with cameras and everything," says Nataliia. Juan adds, "I love speaking in public and set myself the goal of doing it as much as possible. That's why I signed up. But, because I joined Xebia during the pandemic, I had no idea what to expect. It was huge and super professional. In hindsight, maybe I should've worn something fancier," he laughs. Jochem, one of our more seasoned Xebians, adds, "I always look forward to this event. It's fun to learn something about your colleagues you would never have known otherwise. TEDxke offers a great mix of inspiring, personal and funny stories." 

Safety First

For TEDxke to be successful, we need to provide a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable to share their story. That's why we keep it for "Xebians only" and offer all speakers coaching to boost their presentation skills and confidence. "You won't find any other event this big and this safe. There are 300 people, and it's still okay to make mistakes. That's rare. So if you want to work on your authority mission, participating in an event like this is a great opportunity," Juan says. Reinier adds: "Xebians are very open, honest, and like helping each other. Our safe environment opens doors to great opportunities, like organizing this event." He shares an example: "Your colleagues know that it can be stressful to speak in front of a large group and that things can go wrong during your talk. That's why you get their full support before and I think that's really cool."

Beyond IT 

Our regular XKE — an organization-wide knowledge-sharing event held every other Tuesday — is mostly about work-related topics. In contrast, this event focuses 100% on personal stories, from solo hiking in the Alps to writing a (comic) book. 

Gero, speaker and organizer, says, "To ensure we have a great program next year, I start keeping a list of scoops well ahead of time. Funnily enough, that starts the moment the event is over and people come up to me for a quick chat!" 

 Reinier: "I always go home with lots of exciting things to share. For example, someone once described items we use every day that are made from parts of a pig, or someone described her favorite painting. And this TEDxke we had a talk about love languages which made fantastic conversation at home!". Juan adds, "Just because we're in IT doesn't mean we have to speak about our hardcore passion all the time. I wanted my talk to be fun, appeal to a lot of people, and be about something that's close to my heart." 

Sparking New Interests and Connections

How do people respond to such an "out of the box" event? Of course, speakers were showered with compliments. But what reactions really stood out? 

"Before my talk, I was backstage. I looked down at my crochet I was holding and thought, 'I'm going to talk about crochet to a venue filled with mostly men. What am I doing?' Nataliia laughs, "But everyone was enthusiastic about my story afterwards. It's cool to learn that people are so open-minded." 

"When I come to the office in Hilversum now, a lot more people say hello to me," Juan laughs. He adds, "At some point during my talk, I said, 'feel free to invite me for dinner.' And a week later, my fiancé and I were enjoying a meal at a colleague's house. Isn't that awesome?" 

There's a Storyteller in Every One of Us

"To lend future speakers a hand, we're collecting data on what was highly appreciated this year. Once we have all the insights, we'll host an XKE session to share tips with prospective speakers. We will also continue to offer coaching to ensure that future talks are the best they can be," Jochem said. 

Finally, Juan leaves us with some advice worth remembering. "If you don't know what to talk about, keep in mind that it's only five minutes. That's your average small talk. Either share a story that helps people understand who you are, share something you wish you had known a month ago, or share something you're passionate about and might inspire someone else." 


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