Speaking at TEDx – The X Factor
Many professional speakers are interested in whether a TEDx talk will be good for their speaking career. The short answer: Maybe!
In November 2013, I spoke at TEDx Table Mountain and my experience was that it was just the boost I needed to take my speaking career to the next level! It was the main reason for my invitation to be a keynote speaker at the Professional Speakers’ Association of SA Annual Convention in April 2014 (thanks to Stef du Plessis who is one of my greatest cheerleaders after watching my talk online!). It also gained me recognition from the top speaking bureaus. A large number of speaking enquiries are still linked to my TEDx talk views (as far as Dubai and the UK). I’ve also presented on this topic at the Professional Speakers’ Association of the UK (South East region) in May 2015, so the interest in TEDx is global for speakers.
Why do I then say “maybe” it will be good for your speaking career? Not all speakers have had the same experience as I have had. I’ve heard of a professional speaker who found the experience to negatively impact his business. A few event organisers felt that playing his TEDx talk at a conference (which is allowed if following the rules set by TED.com) is good enough and free! While I was concerned about this at first, my experience is that it’s worked in my favour. For example, if I’m unavailable on a specific date, I’ve suggested that my TEDx talk is played at a conference or event. This led to great exposure and further bookings.
A few FAQ’s:
- What is the difference between TED and TEDx?
TED talks are by invitation only and you need to be a leader in your field and have a large following before before being considered to speak at a TED conference. TEDx are independently organized events that are under the rules and guidelines of TED.com. Anyone can apply to host a TEDx event anywhere in the World. Many TEDx speakers incorrectly refer to themselves as TED speakers. It is much easier to speak at a TEDx event (you need to apply and usually audition) compared to TED and critics feel that because “anyone” can do a TEDx talk, the credibility of doing one is becoming diluted. Having said that, a TEDx talk can be elevated to TED status. Brene Brown’s talk on Vulnerability had approximately 435 000 TEDx views before TED considered it (it now has over 22.3 million views!). She was also invited back to TED for a second talk – a great honour! TEDx event organisers can flag their top 2-3 talks to TED for consideration.
- Why 18 minutes?
TED and TEDx talks are recommended to be 18 minutes or less for them to have more impact and to offer more opportunities for other “ideas worth spreading” during the event or conference. My talk is 15:38 and it has taught me the art of saying more, with less. Many conferences are adopting the TED talk style to keep delegates interested and content fresh and impactful. If I had to do mine over, I’d opt for a shorter slot as 15 minutes is still a long time for online viewers to remain interested.
- How do I get booked?
Connect with TEDx groups in your area (follow them on social media) to be in the loop when applications are open for their next event. I spotted TEDx Table Mountain advertising through a Facebook friend’s post. You’ll need to fill in an application highlighting your “idea worth spreading” along with video clips of you presenting on stage. You may need to audition to reach the final selection. There are multiple resources online to help you prepare, including a speaker guide. Most TEDx groups offer speaker coaching leading up to the event.
- What will I be paid?
Nothing! All speakers and the TEDx organisers give up their time voluntarily.
Factors to consider when applying to do a TEDx talk:
- Remember that they are looking for ideas, not speakers. Most TEDx speakers are not professional speakers.
- Consider which TEDx event is the right fit by researching previous events/videos, finding out about the theme for the event (mine was “Exploring the Edge”) and the location. As the event is non-profit and voluntary, some locations are not always ideal for filming. I found my venue to be quite dark and fortunately I had a fellow PSASA member in the audience who showed me the “dead spots” on stage before I gave my talk (I always opt for slots after the first break so that all the teething problems with technology are sorted!).
- Get a speaking coach and showcase your talk at a local Toastmasters Club or PSASA meeting for feedback. Your talk will be online FOREVER so you want to make sure that you do your best. I use my TEDx talk as a showcase. Even though the content is not the same as my keynote presentation, there are many elements that are universal to my talks including my presentation style and humour.
Hayley Foster (a NSA member and short talk Expert Coach), gives the following advice on how a TEDx talk can reach TED status:
- Compelling Idea
- Local flavour, worldwide appeal
- Your delivery must be EXTRAORDINARY
I look forward to hearing your IDEA WORTH SPREADING!