How to Land A TEDx Talk in 7 Easy Steps
You just watched your favorite talk by Laura Mattia, and now you’re trying to figure out how you can land a TEDx talk yourself. Well, we have some good news for you. Landing a spot on the TEDx stage is possible. But first, you’ll need a clear and defined process for success.
We’ve put together some steps you can use to get a TEDx talk. If followed, you’ll be able to unleash your potential, gain expertise, and share your message with others. Ready to land your TEDx talk and make an impact on the world around you? Keep reading.
What Is A TEDx Talk?
A TEDx talk is a speech to educate, influence, and empower others to make a difference in their local communities. The concept of TED talk was established in1984 by TED, whose mission is to create ideas worth spreading.
TEDx talks are usually given by experts in their field and often last anywhere from 1 to 18 minutes. Speeches come in over 100 languages, given by various individuals across the planet. Talks focus on molding local communities by encouraging us to develop a deeper understanding of the world around us.
TED Talks vs. TEDx: What’s the Difference?
While TED talks have been around for decades, TEDx talks are a newer initiative of the TED organization. Before 2006, TED talks weren’t published online. TED conferences were private and not open to the public. So, when the organization TED decided to publish its first six talks in June of 2006, the internet drove to TED in masses.
These talks by world-renowned leaders like Al Gore and Majora Carter received so much attention that more people asked to get involved with TED’s mission. An overwhelming amount of outreach caused TED Curator Chris Anderson to launch the TEDx program in 2010.
Unlike the global focus of TED, TEDx’s priority is serving local communities. The x in TEDx stands for an independently organized event. These events follow the same guidelines as a regular TED talk; however, they focus on gathering and sharing advice from regional experts.
Like a franchise, each TEDx event is licensed by TED and subject to a set of rules and guidelines. This process enables community members and speakers to gain a unique TED-like experience at a more affordable rate.
What Is the TEDx Talk Format?
The TEDx event format consists of a roster of short, carefully prepared talks and demonstrations. TEDx talks are idea-focused and cover a wide range of subjects such as science, technology, design, business, innovation, personal growth, etc., that encourage you to take action.
Volunteers from the local community organize every TEDx event. Like global TED initiatives, there is no commercial, religious, or political agenda behind the talks. Instead, the goal of each TEDx talk is to spark conversation, connection, and community.- Source TED
7 Steps to Get A TEDx Talk
1. Establish Yourself As An Expert
While Picasso and Einstein are often accredited as experts of their time, the rest of us usually don’t become experts overnight. Expertise often takes time and energy to develop. Take Caleb Dressel, for example. He spent 6 hours swimming and weight lifting every day for years before he became a gold medalist in the 2016 and 2021 Olympic Games. Caleb’s success, like many, came through countless trials, tribulations, and hours of practice.
So what are three things you can do today to prepare yourself for the TEDx stage and gain expertise?
- Seek Knowledge: Take online courses, gain certifications, attend conferences and seminars, read books, and learn everything you can about your field of study.
- Practice What You Learn: The saying practice makes perfect is as accurate today as it was when created. Put what you learn into action. If you’re learning about life coaching, consider mentoring a friend or a family member for free. Practicing teaches you to solve problems and develop yourself further.
- Offer to Speak About Your Subject: Presenting your research or learnings to others is a great way to gain expertise. For example, have you ever had someone ask you a question you didn’t know the answer to? If you’re like most individuals, you probably got on your phone and Googled the answer to the question shortly afterward. When you offer to teach people about your subject matter, you open yourself to questions and feedback. Unanswered questions prompt you to learn more and develop a mastery-level skillset.
Once you have followed this process, you’re one step closer to landing a spot on the TEDx stage. If your expertise journey is fun and exciting, you’re probably on the right path to personal fulfillment. However, if you aren’t happy after working to gain expertise, you might need to re-evaluate your passions. Our blog 6 Steps to Find Your Passion And Make An Impact On The World provides a step-by-step process for discovering a passion that lights your soul on fire.
2. Partner With A Coaching Company
Once you have your subject matter expertise, it’s time to put that into action. However, before you start crafting your talk, you might be wondering where you find a TEDx event, how to apply to speak at TED, and how to develop a talk worth sharing. Consider partnering with a coaching company.
While coaching organizations aren’t affiliated with TED, they often have relationships with different TEDx organizers and know what they are looking for. They also have a list of upcoming events. This helps you land a TEDx talk easier and quicker than if you tried to land one on your own.
Some of these organizations even have previous TEDx speakers on their team who provide weekly group coaching sessions that help you clarify and tailor your message for TEDx. This process streamlines the burden associated with finding, developing, and landing a TEDx talk.
3. Write Your Talk
Now that you’ve established yourself, sought counsel, and developed your ideas further, it’s time to write your TEDx talk. While there is no secret TEDx formula, there are things you can do to make your talk stand out. Consider the ideas TED curator Chris Anderson gives in his talk, TED’s Secret To Great Public Speaking.
In his talk, Chris discusses three components that make up a good TED talk. Those are:
Focus On One Major Idea:
Chris talks about how complex ideas are. Because of this complexity, individuals need to focus on one concept they are passionate about. Then, everything should evolve from that one idea.
Give People A Reason To Care:
Before you can start building things into your audience’s mind, you have to stir their curiosity. Use intriguing questions or statements to identify why something doesn’t make sense and needs explaining. In her TEDx talk How To Overcome Your Fears and Unlock Your Superpower, Laura Mattia initially intrigues her audience through her intro statement, “I hear voices all the time.”
Build Your Idea Out of Concepts That Already Exist:
Utilize metaphors and parables to relate your concept to your audience. This helps you build your idea, piece by piece, out of concepts that your audience already understands. For example, in her TED talk, How Every Child Can Thrive By Five, Molly Wright shows a video of a child and parent with technology. Her next clip shows the same child and parent playing without technology getting in the way of the interaction. Since not everyone is a parent, but almost everyone has an electronic device, her example resonates with most audiences.
4. Practice Your Talk
Once you’ve established yourself as an expert and worked with an organization to nail down your topic, it’s time to practice your TEDx talk. A good rule of thumb is to initially stand in front of a mirror so you can modify any unwanted hand gestures or facial expressions.
After you’ve rehearsed in front of a mirror, consider asking friends or family to sit in on a few practice runs of your talk. Ask them to provide you constructive feedback. The goal of a TEDx talk is to engage with and inspire an audience. Your family and friend’s engagement levels indicate whether or not you need to go back to the drawing board.
Note: If your family or friends are overly optimistic, it might be a good idea to ask a few acquaintances or strangers if they’d be willing to listen in. Some coaching companies even offer Facebook groups and Zoom sessions to practice your talk with others. Of course, you can also leverage your own social media network and see if anyone gives you honest feedback.
The key is for your TEDx pitch to be as concise as possible when you present it to an event organizer.
5. Use The Homefield Advantage
Now that you’ve practiced your talk, it’s time to *video it and determine where to submit your application. One thing we haven’t heard others mention is the power of home-field advantage. What we mean by this is, it’s a good idea to start applying near your local community.
Remember earlier when we said the goal of TEDx is to showcase regional leaders and empower local communities? As a local, you already have an advantage above others applying for the same TEDx event. Make sure your application includes something that signifies your location or connection to the local area.
If there isn’t a TEDx near you, that’s okay. Here’s a guide TED created for starting your own TEDx event. Not interested in starting an event? No worries. There are still ways to land a TEDx talk without the home-field advantage. Here are a few recommendations:
- Choose the best event. Make sure the TED conference you choose has the support structure to help you if something arises. Things like a support team, speaking coach, stage, videographer, etc., are good to consider. If your TEDx event doesn’t offer these amenities, make sure you have a plan in place.
- Tailor your application to the event theme. While not all TEDx events have a theme, some do. For example, Mercer University hosted a TEDx event where the theme was Embark. It’s helpful to respect the event theme when applying. Some coaching companies help you streamline this process, so you don’t have to spend hours manually researching themes and organizers.
Before submitting a TEDx application, you might consider hiring a videographer to record your talk. They usually provide you with multiple takes, angles, and edits, which enhances your application. They can also cut out any mess-ups.
Find a TEDx Event Near You!
6. Submit Multiple Applications
We tell our clients that it usually takes an average of 70+ applications to land a TEDx talk. Even though some individuals have landed talks with fewer applications, we suggest aiming high. While this application process can come as a surprise to those just starting their TEDx journey, it doesn’t need to intimidate you. Multiple applications mean you have several opportunities to land the TEDx that’s right for you.
Some coaching companies even submit a certain number of TEDx applications on your behalf so you can focus on practicing and perfecting your talk. This process saves you time and allows you to focus on what matters most: sharing your great idea with the world.
7. Take Up Other Speaking Gigs
Public speaking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. While you’re waiting to get on the TED stage, it doesn’t hurt to take up other speaking opportunities. Speaking gigs may vary depending on the type of TEDx talk you’re giving. Here’s a list of some of the most common types of speaking opportunities available:
- Elementary and Middle School Educational Opportunities
- College and University Speaking Arrangements
- Corporate Speaking Engagements
- Government Opportunities
- Nonprofit Events
- Speaking Industry Events
For a complete list of sites to apply for speaking gigs, click here. Once you’ve delivered a talk, you’ll feel empowered to give another one. The more you practice speaking, the easier it will be to give your TEDx talk.
How Thought-Leader Can Help You Land A TEDx Talk
At Thought-Leader, our goal is to help you clarify your story and spread your message to millions. We do this by helping individuals like Laura Mattia and others strategize for and land a TEDx talk. Our personalized approach helps you maximize your potential and reach your TEDx goals. Here’s a simplified process we can use to help you land your TEDx talk:
- Join our free TEDx webinar hosted by TEDx speaker Taylor Conroy where you receive insight into how to find your TEDx message and purpose
- Meet with one of our Enrollment Team Specialists to learn about our TEDx process
- Once you’ve joined Thought-Leader, you receive a welcome call with our Success Manager, where you are guided through module access and given tips to help you on your TEDx journey.
- You schedule a call with one of our strategists where you discuss your passion, story, and ideas worth sharing.
- Strategists transcribe call notes into an application template you can use as a starting point for drafting your TEDx talk proposal.
- You write formal responses to TEDx application questions, while strategists help you frame and edit your idea to fit the narrative a particular TEDx organizer is searching for.
- Once the written materials get finalized, we offer written prompts that help you generate ideas for a video script.
- We provide feedback for your TEDx video pitch.
At Thought-Leader, we aim to provide you with a radically transparent process that lands you your TEDx talk. Click here to join our free webinar hosted by TEDx speaker Taylor Conry and start your journey to landing a TEDx talk today.