As the executive producer of TEDxLincolnSquare in New York City, I have privilege of working with some amazing speakers. I also get to read hundreds of incredible ideas worth spreading during the application processes each September. Wearing the crown of a TEDx speaker is something authors, speakers, and leaders all want. And the truth is, this red crown, gets you through more doors and gets you more returned calls. But, why does being a TEDx speaker bring on instant credibility? What about taking a TEDx stage is so fancy? I believe it’s the wow factor. The brand TED is super credible. The ideas and speakers who take TED stages are important. Pope Francis spoke at the 2017 conference! And the dream of what could be is alluring. Simon Sinek and Brene Brown became rock stars overnight and that excites people. However, committing to the process of identifying, writing and delivering a TEDx is not easy. TED and TEDx talks are an artform that take time to learn like any other artform. Along with learning the art of TEDx, each event and how to apply successfully, must also be a consideration on this amazing journey. And finally, when you take the stage, be sure to accept the gift of the audience before you give us yours.
1. Learn the artform:
Chris Anderson is the executive producer and curator of TED. His book, TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, should be required reading when it comes to the art of TED or TEDx. If you are going to commit to the process, start there. And if you are still uncertain about this sexy form of public speaking, reach out to a coach. There are many great coaches out there who can support your dream of taking a TEDx stage.
2. Vet the organizers:
Something many people never consider is the wide range of events out there. TEDx is an independently organized event, under the TED umbrella. We, as organizers, have to apply to be granted our license. And we have to re-apply every year. Yep, no joke.
We, as organizers, must also refer to a 115 page manual to stay within the guidelines required of us. So, one would logically think that because of this rigorous process, all events are equally as well run, produced and prestigious. Nope. When you are looking for events, be sure the video and sound quality of past events are up to standard. You do not want to work for months and months on your TEDx and end up with a video of you where the sound is terrible. You do not want to work for months and months to arrive at your event that’s in a broom closet with a light bulb overhead. I’m not suggesting you only apply to events that are in theaters, but I am suggesting that you do your homework, and pause on saying yes immediately to anyone who asks you to take their TEDx stage. This is a lot of work and the outcome can be really wonderful, if you choose wisely. We as organizers choose speakers wisely and I’m giving you permission to do the same with us.
Now that you’ve learned the art form and vetted your perfect event, the next step is to apply. It’s important that you understand what the organizers are looking for. If the theme of the event is artificial intelligence and you want to talk about spirituality, either find a way to connect the two, or look for another event. A mistake I see people make over and over again, when they apply to TEDxLincolnSquare is that they pitch their business or their book instead of an idea worth spreading. A TEDx is a gift not an ask. If you are disguising your idea as a pitch for me to go to your business page and sign up for your coaching, I will put you in the no pile. Be certain when you are filling out the application you understand and can articulate your through-line. You want to be succinct, but also thought provoking.
4. Take the TEDx stage
Something I share with all of my speakers, is the idea of accepting the gift from the audience, before you give them yours. The audience is giving you the gift of their time and attention, and if you accept this before you share your gift of the talk with them, it’s a powerful exchange. The most important thing to remember when delivering your TEDx Talk is that it’s an idea not an issue.
An idea is a concept in your mind that you understand to be true.
· Example: Teaching children through early education, that we are all the same, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation, may still not be enough to combat discrimination.
An issue is an important topic that’s up for discussion or debate.
· Example: Discrimination has to end.
It’s really important that you understand the difference. If you are talking about your idea in terms of the issue you have, we shut down. We stop listening. Nobody wants to go to a TEDx event and be lectured to. We want to be inspired, we want to think differently. We want our minds to be blown. Give us the opportunity to adopt your idea as our own and you will have a successful TEDx Talk.
Grab Tricia’s Free Ebook, The 7 Step Formula for Fearless Speaking HERE.
Tricia Brouk, Director, Writer and Executive Producer of Speakers Who Dare
Tricia Brouk is an award winning director. She is also writes and choreographs for theater, film and television. In addition to her work in the entertainment industry, she applies her expertise to the art of public speaking. She’s the executive producer of TEDxLincolnSquare and has choreographed Black Box on ABC, The Affair on Showtime, Rescue Me on Fox, and John Turturro’s Romance and Cigarettes, where she was awarded a Golden Thumb Award from Roger Ebert. And the series she directed, Sublets, won Best Comedy at the Vancouver Web-Festival. She’s written two musicals, a play, a sitcom pilot, and a feature film. The documentary short she directed and produced This Dinner is Full was official selection at The New York Women in Film and Television Short Festival, as well as the New York City Independent Film Festival. She also hosts The Big Talk a podcast on iTunes, where interviews people who talk for a living.