So you want to speak at a TEDx event? Great idea, but how do you actually get the gig? Well, it might surprise you to know that TEDx events are open to the public to apply to speak.
But there are some time tested tips that can help you nail the application and get yourself onto the TEDx stage.
Ryan Foland, managing partner of InfluenceTree and Daniel Midson-Short, cofounder of LiveClinic, are two emerging professional speakers who successfully navigated the application process for TEDx talks, have learned what works by trial and error.
Ryan and Daniel also got their city experiment called City of Speakers approved for the massiveTEDxLA event in December of 2016.
They offer some killer insider tips about how they got through the application process.
Here are their 9 tips to increase your chances of getting noticed and accepted by organizers:
1. Pre-Prepare Your Speech
Having a canned speech ready will make a big difference when it comes time to apply. Why? Because, if you know what you're going to talk about, it makes the application process a whole lot quicker. TEDx events tend to favor speeches in one of these three areas: innovation, social change or unique personal stories. Mold your talk idea around one of these themes for a higher chance at getting chosen.
2. Have a Catchy Title
Nobody wants to listen to 'Research Findings' or 'Important Information'. Ugh. We all want to listen to something cool, interesting, or intriguing. Ryan's TEDx talk was entitled 'How NOT to Get Chased by a Bear'. It was about the neural process of fear and how we can reduce and inhibit it from happening, but imagine if he'd called it, "A Talk About Lowering Stress." Having a catchy title will make the audience want to know about your big idea.
3. Tie your Talk to the Theme
You might have noticed that with each TED conference and TEDx event, there is a specific theme. There tends to be a single word that has a broad meaning like 'Imagine' or 'Extreme' as the underlying theme. It's a good idea to tie your talk into the theme. The organizers will have a much easier job choosing your talk if you can convey how it fits into their theme.
4. Be Able to Explain your Idea in 300 Characters
You probably have a great idea in your head, but can you explain it in a small amount of words? A lot of the TEDx application forms ask for a succinct explanation in 300 characters. That's approximately 85 words. Write the most simple, compelling version of your talk idea you can, and then run a character test on it. Do this well, and you won't freak out when you see that question on the application.
5. Have an Outline
Many of TEDx applications ask for an outline of your speech. An outline is a bullet point type format of the main points of your speech. It helps the organizers to understand the flow and the messaging strategy you have with your big idea. Highlight key points of your speech to represent the flow and transition of delivering your idea. Do not overlook the importance of having an outline. Remember that TEDx organizers get hundreds of applications and the outline of your speech is a great opportunity to grab their attention them early.
One strategy Ryan uses is to also outline what he expects the audience reaction to be, helping the organizers understand the journey that he plans to take them on. Daniel said make sure to reinforce the singular and one most important take away that the audience should leave with.
6. Be Conscious of Exclusivity
TEDx events typically like to share new ideas. Don't submit a proposal with a speech that you have done 10 times before. Organizers are always looking for fresh ideas. Ryan and Daniel reinforce the importance of exclusivity when it comes to TEDx. You could take a speech that you've done a number of times and modify it to fit the theme of the TEDx. If you do this, be sure to mention in your application that this talk has never been given before.
7. Know your Favorite TED Talks
One of the application questions that comes up a lot is 'What is your favorite TED talk and why?' By watching a lot of TED talks, you can discover which ones you resonate with, and have this answer ready for your application ahead of time.
8. Show the TEDx Organizers Some Love on Social Media
Just like any other event, TEDx has a lot of social media tie-ins. Each event will have its own hashtags and you can use these in your social media to help to promote the events on their behalf. Show the TEDx organizers that you are interested and engaged with their event through your social media whether you get accepted or not. If you don't make it on your first attempt, but still support the event, then you are much more likely to be noticed the next time applications are being considered.
9. Apply within 24 Hours of the Application Opening
The early bird catches the organizers attention. If you are one of the very first to apply, you will show interest and professionalism, and the organizers will appreciate it. Keep in mind however, the submission process can be several months long, so be patient in waiting for a response.
These 9 insider tips will help you get the attention and interest of the event organizers, and may even land you that lucrative spot as a TEDx speaker.
But even if you don't succeed with your first few applications, fear not. There are even more tips coming your way that grow your chances of Landing your first TEDx talk.
Do you have any more tips for the TEDx application process? I would love to hear. Please share in the comments!