“How can I get a chance to talk at TED?”
It’s no wonder that everyone wants to speak on TED’s stage–doing so automatically establishes you as a thought leader in your industry. Because TED wants ideas worth sharing, the chance of your talk going viral makes it the modern equivalent of the printing press.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy even says in her book Presence that her ability to write a book was a direct result of the popularity of her TED Talk. That’s the influence of TED in action.
How to reach the TED stage is the number one question I’m asked daily as a TEDx speaker coach. And while talking at TED is a great goal–it’s the gold standard for public speaking–the road there isn’t one that will happen overnight.
But it is doable.
First and foremost, it’s important to realize TED is looking for “ideas worth spreading.” They aren’t looking for motivational speeches or an elevator pitch about your business. Do you have an astounding and innovative organization or a new way of tackling an old problem? You’ve taken the first step.
Speaking at TED automatically ups your authority and cements you as an expert in your industry. Start taking the journey to TED by reading these three helpful road signs:
1. Be nominated or nominate yourself
The most direct way to approach TED is through a nomination, either by someone else or yourself. When nominating yourself, TED requires a description of your “idea worth spreading” that your talk will focus on and links to videos of your previous speeches or presentations.
But be cautious about nominating yourself: Diane Michlig, executive producer and curator of TEDxSanJoseCA, says, “I generally do not find myself drawn to people who suggest themselves as speakers.”
If being nominated seems like a task within itself, try the TED Fellows Program.
2. Apply to the TED Fellows Program
So, what is the TED Fellows Program exactly?
Well, according to TED, it’s a program that “provides transformational support to a global network of 400 visionaries … to create positive change around the world.”
In short, the program takes deep thinkers and teaches them to talk like TED. Fellows are chosen through an open application program every year. A distinguished candidate is one of the following:
- someone who made a remarkable achievement.
- someone with strength of character.
- someone with an innovative approach to solving world problems.
Have a great idea but don’t know if you have the chops to deliver a speech? TED Fellows was designed for you.
3. Start at a local TEDx
The TED Fellowship Program is difficult to get into, much like securing a nomination.
Your chances of getting into a local TEDx event are much higher. TEDx events are independently organized but TED endorsed showcases run in the same manner as the annual TED conference.
Do your research before choosing a TEDx event. Not all TEDx conferences are created equal. One may have a theme your talk would fit into perfectly. With a little research, you can find the TEDx event fit for you.
Some TEDx events also carry more weight than others. These are called level two events and require a higher level of public speaking experience.
TEDx is like the minor league for TED. To graduate to a fully-fledged TED Talk, you need to play a little ball first–the better your TEDx Talk, the better your chance with TED.
Whichever Path You Choose…
You’re going to need a talk to show the organizers that you can talk like TED. But what goes into a TED Talk besides adhering to the time limit? Writing your talk is everything.
Start with your message. TED is all about ideas. Once you hone in on yours, create an outline to help you explain why the world should care. Then, excite your audience with memorable imagery–a story–to entice them and show your idea in action. Finally, edit, edit, edit. Cut the fat and streamline your speech.
To begin on the path to your very own TED Talk, first craft a TED-worthy talk. Then, start with one of these three stepping stones. With perseverance and presence, you’ll be on your way to earning your invitation to present at TED.