Speaking at TEDx
By Cathy Sobocan, M.A.
Can you finish this sentence?
My “Idea Worth Spreading” is …
Speaking at a TEDx is a dream for many aspiring and professional speakers. Yet most have no idea how the process works. As the voice and performance coach for TEDxToronto and a member of the programming team I will share with you some insights.
First it’s important to note what a TEDx is. A TEDx event is produced independently of TED (technology, entertainment and design) conferences, but it’s based on TED’s format and rules. The organizer of a TEDx has to obtain a license from TED.
At TEDxToronto we choose a theme before selecting the speakers. Then we look for 10 to 13 thought leaders to speak, whose leading edge ideas support the theme. Potential speakers are submitted by the members of the programming team, community nominations and individuals who wish to be a speaker. The TEDx Toronto programming team goes through several months of discussion and debate before narrowing down the top choices.
We consider whether the potential speaker can challenge an audience – make them think, open a door, and shine a light on an idea. The idea worth spreading is more important than speaking experience.
Applications from motivational speakers or someone who wants to sell their product or service by speaking at TEDx Toronto are typically the first to be eliminated. Nothing wrong with being an inspirational speaker, but TEDx is simply not the platform for that type of talk.
We also look for people who are open to being coached and support the philosophy of TEDx. Once the speakers are chosen, our speaker coaches help them craft their talk. In my role as voice and performance coach, I help the speakers with their on-stage presence and delivery with the end goal of a performance that best suits the TEDx stage.
If you’re planning to apply to be a speaker submit only one application. Each application is carefully considered.
So if you still want to speak at a TEDx, consider the following..
1. My idea worth spreading is…
2. Am I a motivational speaker? Or do I want to sell a product or service from the stage. (TEDx is probably not the right stage for you. If that’s the case, what’s a better platform for you?)
3. Does my idea have global implication?
4. Is my idea supported by my life’s work? Has it been tested?
5. Have I watched TED talks? Do I understand what they’re all about?