How To Become A TEDx Speaker

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As an entrepreneur or innovator, you know you have ideas you want to share with the world that will change it for the better. However, getting booked on TED to speak is usually an accomplishment reserved for celebrities and highly notable speakers. Luckily, with the launch of TEDx, a wider range of speakers are able to share their ideas. Read on to learn how to become a TEDx speaker.

What is TEDx?

TEDx is a grassroots initiative that allows innovators and creators with smaller audiences to share their ideas with the world. These TED-like conferences are held by independently owned organizations, not TED itself. This means that as a potential speaker, you won’t be pitching directly to the TED board, but rather to the event organizer’s board. Though you might not find it worth it to speak on an independently owned panel, it can actually be helpful for several reasons. 

The first is that any form of public speaking is always good practice. Besides being an extremely notable celebrity or innovator, TED won’t book you to speak with them if you’re not an adept public speaker. This means you should take any chance you get to practice this valuable skill. 

The second is that many TEDx talks are picked up by TED and posted to their website if deemed insightful enough. For example, author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek started off speaking on TEDx talks. Eventually, he gained enough popularity to be featured in official TED talks and now his speeches have gained up to 13 million views on YouTube! 

Requirements To Be A TEDx Speaker

The Basics

To understand how to become a TEDx speaker, you should first understand what TED stands for: 

  • T is for Technology 
  • E is for Education
  • D is for Design

This means that if your speech topic is not under one of the three aforementioned categories, you won’t be considered to become a speaker. It’s a good idea to do your research beforehand and see what other TEDx speakers have talked about. Not only can you take these ideas and apply them to your niche or topic of expertise, but you can see the format that most TEDx speakers follow when presenting. 

Have An Idea Worth Spreading 

Though TEDx is independently owned and therefore not as exclusive as an official TED talk, there are still hundreds of potential speakers who will be applying alongside you. This means you’ll want to have an especially innovative idea that sets you apart from the competition. Event organizers are looking for speakers who have ideas worth spreading and that are impactful in their specified industry. 

Be Mindful Of Themes 

Certain TEDx talks are organized with a certain theme or ideal that is central to the event. You’ll want to be sure you’re aware of that when applying to the event. For examples, events held in February will often only feature black creators in order to celebrate Black History Month. March is Women’s History Month and therefore many events scheduled during that month might only feature women creators at that time. Be mindful of events being centered around certain themes during different times of the year. You don’t want to apply to something you’re not a fit for and waste both yours and the event organizers’ time. 

Gain Public Speaking Experience Beforehand

As mentioned earlier, gaining experience in public speaking is key before applying to any TED conference. Though TEDx is less exclusive than TED, there are still many, many applicants that apply to each event. If selected, you’ll be invited to speak in front of a large audience and that talk will most likely be uploaded to YouTube or the event organizer’s website. Because of the large reach you’re potentially able to have, it’s important that you make sure you have experience speaking in front of an audience beforehand. Whether you take public speaking classes or practice in front of your friends and family, make sure you’re comfortable with presenting your knowledge on an in-depth topic for up to 18 minutes. 

How To Apply

Once you believe you’re qualified and ready to become a TEDx speaker, it’s time to apply. Step by step, here’s how to apply:

  1. Go to “Discover Events” on TEDx’s website. 
  2. See what events are open and available for you to speak at in your area. 
  3. Visit the specific event’s page. 
  4. Find their contact information. This could be an email address or phone number.
  5. Give them the pitch of a lifetime.

Tips For Pitching Yourself 

Here are ways to make yourself an outstanding candidate to become a TEDx speaker. 

  • Make sure you have an exceptional highlight reel. This should include you speaking at other events about your topic/niche of interest. Prove why you are knowledgeable.
  • Deliver your ideas in an impactful manner. It’s one thing for you to be passionate about your own idea or a topic that naturally interests you. However, why should other people care? Think from a general audience’s point of view when delivering your ideas.
  • Be an expert on your subject. It will be very clear to the event organizers if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Make sure you do your research before you decide you’re ready to become a TEDx speaker. 
  • Use your connections. If you know an event organizer personally, invite them out to coffee or for lunch and explain why you’d like to be a part of their event. If you don’t have a connection with a program organizer, working with a public relations agency (like Otter PR!) is also a great way to fast track your journey to becoming a TEDx speaker. Public relations agencies have the connections you need to get you noticed by program organizers.
  • Submit a complete application. Don’t waste you or the event organizers’ time by submitting an incomplete application. Only complete applications will be considered!
  • Be both persistent and patient. TEDx talks are only increasing in popularity. Understand that it takes time to go through all the applications submitted. Also understand that if you are not picked this time around, you should not be discouraged! Review your application and how you can improve for the next TEDx talk. Then, try again!

In Conclusion

Becoming a TEDx speaker is a great option for smaller entrepreneurs and thought leaders who want to share their ideas with a larger audience. Though TEDx talks are growing in popularity, if one is prepared and determined, they can become a TEDx speaker and grow their business or brand exponentially. Watch our latest YouTube video to learn more about becoming a TEDx speaker! 

Deven McCray

Deven McCray

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