My First TEDx Talk: How to Become a Speaker

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Background

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TED (technology, entertainment and design), is a non profit organization that started in 1984, which is dedicated to spreading ideas in 18 minutes or less. While it’s much more challenging to get an invitation to be a TED speaker, there is the opportunity for you to share your idea by giving a TEDx talk.

TEDx are independently-organized, TED-like conferences that are located throughout the whole world. If you are wanting to get your new idea out, this is a great starting place for someone who wants to reach a large audience of people. TEDx has the same idea as the TED on sharing ideas, but this allows independent organizers the opportunity to plan and organize an event in their own community.

Note: if you want to plan your own TEDx event, you must go through an extensive application process and they do not accept all requests. 

 

I will never forget the first moment I watched my first TEDx talk years back. I spent that whole evening watching talk after talk and it’s as if a light switch went off in my head for the first time and I said to myself,

“Now THAT is what I want to do!”

From that cold winter day in Arkansas, I was hooked. Watching these videos became the moment of the day that I was most excited about, and thanks to many of these talks, I have learned many amazing new ideas that I have implemented into my everyday life.

However, I was not just content watching good ideas. I had an eagerness and passion to share my own ideas, so I went off on my own personal search to see how I could make dream become a reality.

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The Process

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There are many different ways to go about finding an opportunity to become a TEDx speaker, but I am only going to speak from my own personal experience and explain exactly what I did to get myself on the TEDx stage in November 2016.

In the process, the first thing I want to point out is: TALK IS CHEAP…

It’s one thing to do what I did for months and say “I would love to give a TEDx talk one day…” I would mention this desire on multiple occasions, but without a clear action plan, they were just empty words and wishes.

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If you desire to be a TEDx speaker or any kind of public speaker for that matter, the most important thing is to before anything is:

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1.  Identify your Area and General Message

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What makes you different from other speakers?
  • What experience do you have that can set you apart?
  • What is the main message that you want send out into the world?
  • If you could sum your mission statement up into one sentence, what would it be?

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IMPORTANT: TED is about ideas, not individuals. Anyone who appears to use the platform for self-promotion will be denied. 

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You can’t possible start contacting others about your interesting TEDx idea if you have not decided on what it is, so do a little brainstorming and get your ideas a bit more organized before contacting others. The more organized you appear when making your first call or email, the more likely your chance for success.

When I first did my brainstorming, I identified my mission statement: Spreading a message of friendship and connection between cultures and countries through travel and to inspire others to face fears and live the life they have always imagined.  

It’s not a magical formula where you figure out your mission statement and all the sudden your TEDx idea becomes clear as day. No, however having a clear mission statement and focus can help guide and direct you.

2. Why You?

 

If you are wanting to give a mind-blowing TEDx talk, keep in mind that you won’t be alone. That is not to discourage you, but rather to press upon you the importance doing everything in your power to sell your idea.

Depending on where you plan to apply for the TEDx event, there will be more requests and referrals than spots available to speak. With that in mind, you need to do all you can to show WHY the organizer should choose you out of all of the other people.

Creating a website showing your personal portfolio is a great place to start.

 

This website could include, but is not limited to:

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  • Past video presentations: If you lack a professional video, I highly suggest showing a video of some type, even if it’s just you recording yourself talking about an interesting talk.
  • Blog entries: Give the organizer an idea of your personal thoughts on topics that you are passionate about via articles.
  • Links to social media: This is a powerful tool to give the organizer a feel for who you are.
  • Resume: Include your experience and past experience speaking if you have some.
  • Photos

There are people that skip this process and still get the opportunity to give a TEDx talk, however if you are not being referred, the event is large, or the organizer does not personally know you, then you will drastically reduce your probability without some sort of content to show.

Remember, in large events there may be hundreds, or even thousands that want to speak as well. It will take time to do this step, but I highly suggest not skipping it. If you plan on public speaking aside from the TEDx talk in the future, its most likely that the next event will also want this as well.

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3. Get Busy

 

As I mentioned before, words are cheap. You can have the best idea in the world, with an incredible website, but if you don’t take action, then you have missed the most important step.

After you have all your ideas and information together, it’s time to send emails and connect. If you plan on applying in your community, start by asking mutual friends if they have any personal contacts to connect you, but if not, it’s okay as well.

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Visit the website: www.ted.com/tedx/events and you find exactly what you need to get started.

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You can explore the TEDx events by location, name or type and the specific time of year you want. Once you find an event that you think is interesting, click on it and it will take you to the event details. From there you can decide if that event is in line with your idea, and if its not, then simply move onto another one.

Each TEDx conference will have a different theme, so make sure to not waste your time, nor the organizers, with an email on your idea to an event that has absolutely nothing to do with the theme of the conference.

 

 

After the event information, you will be able to find the information of the organizer. Many will have links to their contact information, however it many cases there is none available. If it’s an event you are really interested in, don’t give up just because you don’t see the email. There is ALWAYS a way.

You can call this stalky behavior, I put each organizer in Facebook or LinkedIn and sent them a private message from there. I simply mentioned that I got their name off the TED website and I wanted to introduce myself and connect with an idea that I think would be excellent for their TEDx conference.

 

 

I sent out multiple Facebook messages with many replies. Some of the organizers did not need speakers at the time, but the best part of getting a reply is the fact that even if they don´t need a speaker for the current year, there is always the option for the future. Having direct communication with the organizer can enhance your chances for the following year, or as a referral to another event.

When you are finally in contact with the organizer, he will she will be able to look over your information and see if you might be a good fit. From there is when you might set up a phone or Skype call and talk more about the specifics of your idea.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have success at first. There are thousands of TEDx events all around the world that might be better for you, so stay focused. Giving my first TEDx talk was such an amazing overall experience that I hope to have again in the future.

 

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  • Have you ever given a TEDx talk? If so, what advice do you have for others?

  • Share your stories and questions below!

 

 

 

Sarah - thenomadicdreamer.comMy First TEDx Talk: How to Become a Speaker