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How to give a TEDx talk that INSPIRES MILLIONS

how to give a ted talk Apr 08, 2020

So you have a dream of giving a TEDx talk that inspires millions. Well, you're not alone. It seems that millions of people share that dream. You want to give a TEDx talk that really establishes you as a credible authority and allows you to really and truly share your idea worth spreading. That is the promise of TED and being on a TEDx stage. But what are the steps that you need to follow and how do you really craft that speech, that is an idea worth spreading? 


I have given a couple of TEDx talks in my career and one of them was even moved to the TED main website. I am also a speaking and visibility coach. I work with speakers around the world to help them curate and craft their signature story and speech so that they can go out and make an impact and a difference in the world.


So many people these days really want to give a TEDx talk. It is the gold standard for speaking and it has established so many people as credible authorities or thought leaders. And so if you are in that space and are truly desiring to do a TEDx talk, I just want to give you a couple of baseline pointers to help you get started. 



First and foremost, if your intention is to motivate people, or use this as an opportunity to get more fame, fortune or deliver an elevator pitch, forget about it... That's not what TEDx is all about.


It is about you sharing an idea worth spreading. And it is highly competitive. There are thousands of TEDx opportunities around the world and there are many, many more people who want to get on a TEDx stage. There may be 10 people who are chosen out of a hundred or a thousand applicants. It really is going to require that you are good at what you're doing and have an idea worth spreading. 


With so many TEDx talks popping up, I suggest you start local. 

There are several TEDx opportunities probably within your own state and depending on if you're watching this from another country, definitely within your country. The best way to find one is to do an exhaustive search. Go to TEDx.com and you will see a long list of TedX and TED related talks around the globe. Zero in on an area that's near you and look to see what events are coming up. Typically the curators and organizers will have already posted that there is a TEDx or a TED event that's coming up. Then if they've already posted the theme, it's really important for you to take a close look at the theme. 

I'm going to get into why that's so important in a moment, but for now you just want to build a list of TED opportunities that are in your backyard or easy for you to get to. Once you find a couple of TEDx talks that are in your area, then determine whether or not the idea that you want to share is in alignment with the theme that the organizers have put up already.

I can tell you this is extremely important for you to do. It is because you could be way out in left field with your idea and that is literally going to limit the chances of you getting onto a TEDx stage. I will tell you that I tried three times before I was even given the possibility to go on stage… And then there was more competition ahead of me! 


Once you've found an event to speak at you’ll want to either get nominated or nominate yourself.

I'll tell you that the curators and organizers would much prefer that a candidate has been nominated versus you nominating yourself. Even if that means finding someone who respects your work and respects what it is that you'd like to talk about, and asking them to nominate you. Typically, what's even better is that if there's someone who is following you or who knows your commitment to this area of work and they're aware that a TEDx talk is coming to the area, they may nominate you anyway and isn't that an honor to be nominated in that way?

I had been nominated three times for three separate TED events and I wasn't selected at all and I can tell you it's tough to deal with that rejection, especially when you are a speaker and you teach people to speak, but I get it. That is not what TED and it allowed me to really hone in on my desire and my commitment to doing it. 

It just happens that my perfect idea worth spreading unfortunately came at the hands of some extreme personal and professional turmoil after I became the victim of what's called revenge porn, which is a form of cyber harassment and cyberbullying. While I worked to defend myself, release myself from the shame and advocate for other victims along with filming a documentary, the opportunity for a TEDx arrived and I was nominated for it. It just so happened that the theme was right, that the ideas that I had worth spreading worked and it was synergy. And so sometimes it's about waiting, but being prepared for that perfect opportunity. Little did I know that my mess would become my message and that this TEDx talk would be moved to the TED main website, TED.com, be viewed millions of times and translated into over 17 different languages. So that just shows you the power of being on a TEDx stage and why it's so important for you to not give up on your dreams of being on a TEDx stage.


So you have a great idea, but you're not even sure if you could even deliver it as a speech. Maybe you're nervous about getting onto a TEDx stage and following their very strict format. 


Well, here's something you might want to consider; TED’s fellow program. The way this works is that TED’s program provides transformational support to a global network of 400 visionaries to create positive change around the world. Basically what the TED fellows program does is take deep thinkers and teach them to talk like TED. For those people who apply and are accepted, the candidates are someone who can make a remarkable achievement. Someone who has a strength of character and someone with an innovative approach to solving world problems. So if that sounds like you and you're still trying to navigate and figure out what next steps you want to do, you might want to look into TED’s fellow program because that may be exactly what would work best for you, no matter the path that you choose. 


You're really going to need to show organizers that you can talk like Ted and there is a very streamlined and strict approach to doing that. 

Now you will need to do more than just hit the time limit. When I did my TEDx talk, it had to be less than 10 minutes and I had so much to say so I definitely had to craft a good speech. Writing your speech is very important. Start with your message because TEDx is all about ideas. Once you hone in on your messaging, you need to create an outline that explains why you care and why others should care about this as well. Then you have to look for ways that you can incite excitement and create imagery for the audience. Be memorable in your storytelling. It's so key and so important. And then after you've done all of that, it's literally like doing a brain dump. You do multiple brain dumps and then you cut and edit until you’ve massaged and trimmed out all the fat and you have the core. Now I will tell you that if you get accepted and you have been chosen as one of the lucky few to deliver a TEDx talk, you will work closely with TEDx organizers and curators to help you craft your TED worthy talk because it's important that it not only meets the theme, but there is a style to TED. 


I can tell you that this book was extremely helpful. In addition to me receiving coaching to help me along the way, I also found this book to be helpful. But it's really important for you to come first with what you know to be your true talk, your true story, this message that is so important to you. Because if you begin to craft something that does not feel real, raw and authentic, and you can make it memorable, it's going to be really tough for you to be chosen and then for you to deliver a TED worthy talk to an audience who will respect you and admire you for it. 

So these are just a few of the beginning pieces that you're going to need to not only find a TEDx opportunity, but to craft a TED worthy talk that gets millions of views.


I am here to help you along the journey. Here is a link for you to apply for an opportunity to speak with me and I also want to remind you that this book is available. You can also check out my TED talk here.


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