I found myself completely stumped when I applied to be a TEDx speaker. For months I wrestled with the notion of delivering the talk.
I followed these 7 steps to land on my topic of vulnerability. I'm sharing them with you in the hopes that you find your TEDx talk, and share it with the world. I believe we all have something powerful to share.
1. Get introspective/ does it feel right?
I literally locked myself in a room, and meditated on the topic. I even changed the topic I had used to initially apply to speak. It just didn't feel right. Find what feels right for you, and go for it.
2. Think big picture/legacy.
I knew I'd be happy with my speech, if I could project myself into the future and see myself sharing my talk with my daughters as grown women. If I felt comfortable with the lesson in the talk, and the content felt genuine, I knew it would work.
That was my only north star. My sole guiding light. If I felt my daughters would be proud of me. It was a green light.
When seeking your topic, I encourage you to picture your future self with your family. If you feel great about sharing your talk with them, and the lessons you're sharing you'll be fine.
3. Give yourself appropriate time for preparation.
This was a mistake on my part. I didn't have enough time to prepare, (only a few short months). I recommend that if you're applying to speak at a TEDx event that you allot a year of preparation.
It may seem like overkill - it's not. If you're not a regular public speaker, then preparation time is a non negotiable. The longer you have to prepare the better.
4. Stay in your lane.
When confronted with seeking a topic and figuring out how to make the most of my speech, I realized that watching other TED talks, or TEDx talks was a bad idea. I knew that my talk had to be my own, and had to be about something that happened to me.
Be yourself, stay in your lane (speak about what you know), and you'll be great.
5. Ask for help.
This is a tough one. At least it was for me. I'm a member of a phenomenal networking group called Bleeker. I requested to have a session where I delivered my talk, and would receive constructive feedback.
I strongly recommend you do this. It sounds terrifying, and frankly -- it is. But it's better to be terrified in a safe environment where you can stop your speech to gather yourself rather than stop yourself while on a TEDx stage presenting.
You need people to hear your talk. What you think is apparent, may be confusing to the audience. What you think needs further explanation, may only need a word or two.
This is essential, you MUST ask for help with a TEDx talk.
6. Practice...but do it your way.
I created cue cards that were color coded so that I could study. I have a visual memory. Each color coded card represented a story that I would tell. I allowed myself the freedom to tell the story as I saw fit when I delivered it. But I also created a structure to ensure that I wouldn't go over the allowed time, and that the speech would be fluid and coherent.
I didn't practice it in public a million times, but I did look like a crazy person mumbling the speech to myself as I walked around the house. This helped.
So when I was speaking, I could be natural, but still remember every detail of the speech. Practice in a way that works for you, but practice, practice practice.
7. Let your guard down.
You don't have to work yourself up during your talk, but don't sugar coat a thing. TEDx talks are different than any other talk you've ever delivered. There is just something in the air. People will see your talk.
You cannot BS at any point. You must find your genuine voice. If that voice is booming, and bombastic, and confident, cool. Do that. But make sure you let your guard down and be your most authentic you.
Now it's your turn. Look for your local TEDx event. Better yet, why not organize your own?
Let's all get better at defining and sharing our ideas worth spreading.