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How to Become a TEDx Speaker

Think critically and do your research to become a TEDx speaker:

  • Focus your talk on the most unique aspect of your story.
  • Draw larger connections – move toward big ideas, topics and theories.
  • Market original ideas without corporate plugs or sales pitches.
  • Speak to an intelligent audience who may not understand industry jargon.

Find Upcoming TEDx Events.

Many TEDx events, including TEDxReno determine their speaker lineup months in advance. These are often massive, coordinated events, so simply asking to become a TEDx speaker at the last minute will not work. Instead, research where local TEDx events are being held in your area. A great resource for determining where TEDx events are being held is Their TEDx Event Page supplies comprehensive listings of TEDx events near you and around the nation. Once you determine where to go, you’ll want to contact the event coordinator or lead for information regarding the application and selection process.

Research the Speaker Selection Process.

Many TEDx events have a dedicated speaker selection process. These criteria vary from event to event, with the intention of highlighting the best quality speakers. Often, each TEDx event will release information regarding when this selection process is open. For TEDxUniveristyofNevada we typically open our call for TEDx speakers directly after our January event, before closing towards the end of June.

Submit Your Speaker Application.

Most TEDx speaker selection processes begin with a submission or speaker proposal form. This is your first introduction to the TEDx event, and often the most important – some even require video submissions. For TEDxReno, our form requires you to provide a link to a video of you speaking. If you don’t already have such a video, it is advisable that you create a 2 minute demo and upload it to Youtube, so that you can provide any prospective event with a link.

Craft a Speaker Proposal.

For speaker proposals, consider having several pithy statements ready to go. This is your opportunity to share your most compelling idea, so you won’t want to squander it with something generic and bland. In this instance it is better show your reader why your idea is compelling instead of telling them why you think it’s compelling. Regionality is also another consideration. You may want to tailor your proposal to a specific theme, idea or region to better suit the TEDx event speaker line-up. If there is a theme, it is important that you respect it. You may have a wonderful speaker proposal, but if your talk does not fit with the theme of the TEDx event, your chances for selection are slim. When considering TEDx speakers, the event selection committee looks at how each speaker fits into the larger picture. Their goal more often than not is to create a polyphony of diverse speakers who can attest to various facets of a given theme or subject. In the end, you want to build connections and make yourself as marketable and diverse as possible.

Create Variations of Your Proposed TEDx Talk.

You may also consider creating variations of the same talk. In this way you can reuse and recombine your existing content to better suit a given audience or theme. In the end, this make you a more capable and well rounded TEDx speaker. Finally, always ensure that your application materials are complete. Once you submit your information, wait for a response.

Understand How TEDx Events Work.

Before speaking at a TEDx event, consult the “TED” commandments below.

Be Mindful of Etiquette.

For many TEDx events, speakers sit in the audience until their scheduled session. When it is time for their scheduled session, a crew member brings them to a back stage preparation area or green room. As a speaker, it is common curtesy to stay for the entire event. Mingling with attendees after a TEDx event is also important. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, this is perhaps the most valuable use of your time.

Work Within the General TEDx Guidelines.

TED sets guidelines for the length of TEDx talks – less than 15 minutes. Most speakers actually have around 12 minutes or less to speak. If the event supports it, expect that all talks will be video recorded and posted to the TEDx website after the event. If your talk runs long it will potentially undergo editing before being posted to the TEDx website. Plagiarism an intellectual property are also considerations. TEDxReno requires that all TEDx speakers sign a speaker waiver affirming that they are the sole author of their presentation, that they own the rights to the content in their presentation, that they will inform about any third-party material in their presentation, and that the use of the presentation won’t violate the rights of any third party. TED has never paid a speaker to appear. Because TEDx events are TEDx licensee’s, they follow the same policy. In some cases, TEDx events make provisions for air travel and two nights lodging for out-of-town speakers.

TED Commandments

These 10 tips are given to all TED Conference speakers as they prepare their TEDTalks. These will help you craft a TEDxReno talk that will have a profound impact on your audience. Please keep them in mind while developing your proposal.

  1. Dream big. Strive to create the best talk you have ever given. Reveal something never seen before. Do something the audience will remember forever. Share an idea that could change the world.
  2. Show us the real you. Share your passions, your dreams … and also your fears. Be vulnerable. Speak of failure as well as success.
  3. Make the complex plain. Don’t try to dazzle intellectually. Don’t speak in abstractions. Explain! Give examples. Tell stories. Be specific.
  4. Connect with people’s emotions. Make us laugh! Make us cry!
  5. Don’t flaunt your ego. Don’t boast. It’s the surest way to switch everyone off.
  6. No selling from the stage! Unless we have specifically asked you to, do not talk about your company or organization. And don’t even think about pitching your products or services or asking for funding from stage.
  7. Feel free to comment on other speakers’ talks, to praise or to criticize. Controversy energizes! Enthusiastic endorsement is powerful!
  8. Don’t read your talk. Notes are fine. But if the choice is between reading or rambling, then read!
  9. End your talk on time. Doing otherwise is to steal time from the people that follow you. We won’t allow it.
  10. Rehearse your talk in front of a trusted friend (lots!) … for timing, for clarity, for impact.