In this blog post, you’ll discover tips and tricks for a TEDx Talk, from how to fill out your application, to what to consider when you’re developing and delivering your talk.
The TED Team says it best: “TED is the place to give the talk of your life.”
If you have an interest in public speaking, it’s more than likely that one of your dreams is delivering a talk from the TED stage.
The TED Team spends hundreds of hours researching and reviewing only the most inspiring, thought-provoking, and leading masterminds on the planet today for consideration when it comes to taking their stage. This comes as no surprise, as it is certainly one of the most coveted accomplishments to add to your speaking resume!
At Speaker Nation, it’s our mission to help coach speakers into being equipped with the confidence, preparedness and knowledge they need when it comes to public speaking and the future of their careers.
So when we had the opportunity to speak with Taylor Conroy, a TEDx Speaker Alumni turned pro (by the way, the impact of his talk resulted in the building of over 500 schools, libraries and homes for underprivileged children and families all over the world), we were thrilled at the opportunity to share his insider insights with you to help you see the mechanics behind applying, creating and delivering a TEDx Talk.
Here are the tips and tricks we believe to be the best methods you can use to land a TEDx Talk and make it stick:
THE TEDx effect
Once your talk starts making the rounds online and you start receiving messages from people singing your praises and sharing, “Hey, I watched your TEDx Talk and…” this immediately confirms that delivering your talk was absolutely an efficient use of your time.
Everything you put into your talk is worth it if you can impact just one person.
Receiving these types of messages tells you that your talk impacted your audience enough to have them hear you, listen to you, and follow your call to action.
Why? Because by the end of your talk, they believed in you. They believed in what you had to say.
Getting on stage and delivering an outstanding presentation from a TEDx stage is one of the most efficient ways you can get your message in front of exactly the people you want to get it in front of.
The reason? TEDx has a massive audience—orders of magnitude larger than all but the world’s most famous speakers. TEDx videos frequently become some of the most-watched talks in the world. Performing well at a TEDx event can get you noticed by people who might never have found out who you were before you stepped on that stage.
Leave People Wanting more
You probably already know that TEDx Talks have to be less than 18 minutes. That’s not a lot of time to say everything you want to say, is it?
That’s why it’s your responsibility to ensure that every single second of that 18 minutes you share is content that will intrigue your audience enough so by the end of it, they have no choice but to look you up and follow your every word off that stage and onto wherever your message might lead them.
It’s up to you to lead them in that direction. It could be the direction of your next project, your upcoming book, your social channels, your coaching…whatever it is you’re offering that will keep them listening to you.
Your TEDx talk is compiled of all of the little satisfying breadcrumbs that lead your audience to wanting more, more, more.
Your title should be constructed in a way that opens a loop in your potential audience’s mind that can only be closed by watching your talk.
Just by looking at a list of the top TED Talks of all time you’ll notice by reading the titles alone exactly why they’re the most popular talks.
The purpose of a title is to make your audience want to dive into your talk and commit to watching 18 minutes of whatever it is you’re delivering.
Human beings just love learning, and that’s one of the reasons why audiences love TED Talks. So when your title hints at a lesson they’ll take away from your talk, it’s intriguing and attractive to someone scrolling through a list of what otherwise might be considered blah titles.
For humans, when we learn something new, it’s a reward… Especially when it only takes 18 minutes to learn it.
Fun fact: Because TED Talks are always 18 minutes or under, viewers automatically know how much time they need to invest to watch it. A familiar time block means they’re not clicking into the unknown. They’re comfortable and happy to sit down for something that’s short, sweet, and educational, all in one.
focus on your idea
TEDx isn’t looking for the seasoned speaker, they’re looking for a speaker with a powerful, unique, compelling and intriguing idea.
So instead of listing your experience or your educational background, or the countless accomplishments piled onto your resume, simply focus on why your idea is the best idea.
Your idea is the number 1 thing that needs to stand out on your application. When the organizer is sifting through a pile of papers, you want them to pick up on the power of your idea from first glance.
TEDx organizers work for free. They spend their time organizing these events because they’re passionate about uncovering new ideas to share with the world; ideas that might not have otherwise been given a platform.
Remember: The TED rule is that you’re not allowed to deliver a talk you’ve already done. Your TEDx Talk should be original and your presentation should be the first time you’ve ever shared it with an audience. They’re looking for the diamond-in-the-rough speaker who isn’t technically one of the pros, so feel free to take some of that pressure off yourself and just focus on the idea worth spreading.
the audience is your client
To go along with your application process, one of the things you really want to focus on is clearly communicating how the audience will be directly impacted by your talk.
What will they walk away with? How will they feel once they’ve heard you speak? What will their lives look like after they implement your message? Why is your talk different from any other on the topic?
You have to know the answers to all of these questions and more before you even think about stepping on stage. Picture yourself as an audience member at a talk… What is it that you hope to get out of any presentation you listen to? Put that into motion.
Your audience is your real client, so commit to wowing them.
For event organizers, the audience is their top priority as well. Similar to our previous point, these organizers are committed to making sure their audience members receive the most insightful and unique experience possible by attending TEDx Talks. What makes you stand out from the rest and really speak to their audience?
If you go out and try to put all of your accomplishments and accreditations from every aspect of your life onto your application to try and prove yourself, that will more often than not have the reverse effect. Of course, there will be a spot for you to share your experiences and why you’re the right person to give this talk, but your focus should be on sharing why you’re there to be of service.
Make it clear that you’re not afraid of being coached. You’re humbled by the opportunity to even be considered and you’re there to serve the audience with your message in whatever way suits them best.
To this point, being coachable is key, because sometimes the organizers will make suggestions for you to tweak your talk in a way that best suits their event and audience members (who they know best).
If you’re open to these suggestions and make yourself and your talk flexible, you’re much more likely to come across as coachable and easy to work with (which is a great way to ensure you get remembered and maybe even invited back)!
Don’t be afraid to show humility, it will truly bode well for you in the end.
In order to get noticed, your TEDx application needs to be completed in an extremely high-quality way. How can you ensure this is the case for your application? Try getting someone within TEDx to review it and confirm everything you’ve filled out is clear and succinct. This is a surefire way to get your application as perfect as possible.
In some cases, it might not be the feedback you had hoped for. That’s okay! Receive it, process it, and implement it as opposed to closing your eyes and hoping for the best.
Having a second set of professional eyes on your application is just another step to doing everything in your power to help things go the way you hope.
And as an added bonus, your energy will be much more relaxed since you can rest easy knowing you did everything you could and even had the right people in the right places review your application.
Once you’re confident in the quality, you know you did the best you could humanly do, and now all you can do is wait.
Just like high quality, you want to ensure you focus on high quantity as well. What does this mean?
At any given moment, it’s likely there are at least 30 TEDx events searching for speakers to add to their agenda.
They’re looking for people who are prepared to impact audiences in a big, beautiful way.
Of course, you could apply to the one specific event you had your eye on.
Or…you apply to all 30!
Applying in a high-quality way to a high quantity of opportunities available to you heightens your chances of landing on a TEDx stage.
Remember: there isn’t a real rhyme or reason for why some speakers land a talk by sending out 2 applications and some land a talk by sending out 88.
It all comes back to the event organizers. As every TEDx event has a different theme, they’ll be looking for talks that are aligned with that theme.
Keep in mind that if you remain coachable (remember?), then you might have a chance to tweak your talk so it suits the theme of the event you’re hoping to be a part of.
feelings are key
People want to feel. And listening to a powerful, inspiring and impactful talk is one of the best ways to evoke emotion within people.
They listen for the whole 18 minutes because they want to ignite some sort of feeling from within—whether it’s their soul, their mind, or their heart.
It’s your job to help spark their emotions. You need to be in a state that allows you to feel the feelings yourself while you’re on stage so they’re translated through.
This means internalizing your talk at such a deep level that you have no choice but to feel your feelings and step out of your head for that moment in time.
Nothing matters more than how you’re emoting your feelings. You’ll likely even get lost in where they’re taking you. That’s okay, because the same is sure to happen to anyone watching and listening to you.
Here’s something to keep in mind when you’re developing your talk. When you click “share” on a video to post it to your social media channel, you don’t do that just for the sake of doing it. You share it because you want your social circle to feel the way you felt after watching it.
So as a speaker, if you just talk monotonously with a stone-cold face, not showing a single speck of realness, you’re not going to get the feeling across to an audience that is so desperately seeking (and sharing) it.
As a speaker, your top priority should be to put out a talk that continues to make an impact even while you’re sleeping. This means that whatever message you share, you want it to have the power to stand on its own and be circulated and viewed for years to come.
Before you know it, your presentation will become an evergreen piece of content that continues to give and be of service for all the years it will live on the internet.
Remember: what you’re delivering isn’t only for the 2,000 people in the room, it’s for all of the millions of people at home who will be watching the recording from morning to night.
Because of this, you’ll likely receive requests to deliver the same talk (or at least something on that theme) for years to come. So you really have to be so in love with your topic that it won’t be a burden to be speaking about it for as long as the requests continue to roll in.
At the end of the day, you want your talk to be just as the TED Team described it at the beginning of this post: the talk of your life.
This is exactly why every pause, every word and every body language movement you include matter.
One of the best ways to help your TEDx Talk perform well is to leverage what we call The Stage Effect.
Speaker Nation has put together a guide that will walk you through exactly what The Stage Effect is and how you can use it to your advantage in your future TEDx Talk so you engage the audience, create that momentum and keep people talking about you and your talk for years to come.