A TED Talk is one of the single most powerful platforms for sharing your ideas. But before you can wow your audience and reap the benefits of worldwide exposure, you first need to know how to get a TED Talk. Luckily, it might not be as hard as you think.
There is a tried-and-true method for how to get a TED Talk; a method that hundreds of speakers have successfully followed. Of course, some are more successful than others, and that’s because they aren’t in on the secret.
There is one thing you absolutely MUST do before stepping onto the TED stage, and if you keep reading, you’ll learn all about it.
In this blog, I will cover what TED Talks are, how to get a TED Talk, and the secret to maximizing the experience.
This blog on how to get a TED Talk covers:
What a TED Talk is & why you want to land one
In 1984, Harry Marks and Richard Saul Wurman decided to host a conference featuring thought leaders in the fields of technology, entertainment, and design to share “ideas worth spreading.” Thus the acronym “TED” was born – and so were TED Talks.
TED quickly became an annual event, and the roster was no longer limited to technology, entertainment, and design. Business leaders, philosophers, musicians, and more have all had their time in the spotlight.
In 2006, TED Talks were posted online on ted.com, and the conference’s popularity took off like wildfire.
There are currently four main TED conferences. The TED conference, TEDWomen, TEDGlobal, and TEDSummit. But with TED’s rise in popularity, there was a demand for localized TED events, too.
That’s when TEDx was created.
How is a TED Talk different from a TEDx Talk?
TEDx was created in 2009. These talks follow the TED format and are local, live, and a bit easier to get on.
Because TEDx Talks are community-focused, they are more likely to take individual local speakers. But TEDx Talks are not to be overlooked. They are one of the best stepping stones to learning how to get a TED Talk.
In fact, you can’t be featured on the TED website if you don’t do a TEDx Talk first!
TEDx Talks and TED Talks are a proven way to propel your success forward in your field. They are absolutely incredible marketing and networking tools. And yet, so many speakers are too intimidated to even learn how to get on a TED Talk.
But you don’t need to be!
I'm an 8-figure sales trainer and public speaker, and have helped our founder, Chandler Bolt, to land a TED Talk of his own. There is a proven process for it, so let’s go over some simple steps you can take to learn how to become a TED Talk speaker.
How to get a TED Talk in 9 simple steps
Just follow these steps and you’ll learn how to get a TED Talk in no time.
1. Have a killer idea
When many people start learning how to get a TED talk, they think they need to be an established public speaker or have an extensive social media following.
But that’s not necessarily the case.
Learning how to get a TED Talk is a lot less about what kind of speaker you are, and a lot more about an original and compelling idea.
Without a great idea, you’re not going to learn how to get on a TED Talk. After all, the slogan is “ideas worth spreading,” so you need an idea first!
Come up with a world-changing, breakthrough idea. One that you are passionate about. Determine what message you want your audience to take away from your topic.
2. Research past TED Talks
Whether you know precisely what you want to speak on, or need some inspiration for topics, it’s important to dig into the TED Talks that came before you.
Researching other TED Talks will help you hone in on the correct topic and teach you important lessons about the tone, speed, and flow of successful speeches.
It will also ensure that you aren’t trying to repeat a topic that has already been covered!
Take cues from presenters’ PowerPoints, calls to action, and audience interaction. Understanding a successful TED Talk format will help you learn how to get a TED Talk of your own.
3. Cultivate your brand
Your online presence informs how your audience sees you – for better or for worse. Every piece of content you put online, from podcasts, to social media posts, to videos should be intentional and specific to your brand.
Vet your current presence heavily and edit and delete as necessary. Then, create a social media presence centered around your TED Talk message/topic.
4. Write a book
You probably think this came out of left field, but hear me out. This is THE secret to succeeding in your public speaking journey.
A book is such an important part of your personal brand. If you are seeking speaking gigs to grow your career and you don’t have a book, it is a HUGE missed opportunity. So, if you are considering writing a book (which you should), make sure you do this before your big speech.
Having a published book will make you more of an authority in your sphere. This credibility can help on your journey to learn how to become a TED Talk speaker. It can also help you to organize your ideas, and works sort of like A/B testing for your TED topic.
You can see which sections of your book that readers respond most to, and zero in on those to compose your speech. After all, TED Talks are 18 minutes long, maximum – so you can’t talk about everything!
In addition, your book can be your business card and lead magnet for you while you're on stage. And if you plug your book in your speech, or in Youtube videos of your speech, it can give you incredible exposure for your business.
If anyone sees your speech you will get FREE marketing for your book – which is often direct marketing for your business, as well.
There is absolutely no reason not to learn how to write a book before pursuing a spot on the TED stage. It’s too good of an opportunity to pass up! You’ll get more sales, more authority, more exposure, and more clarity in your ideas.
Plus, it’s easy to learn how to turn your book into a speech.
Need help with writing your book? That’s what we’re here for! We can even teach you how to become a bestseller.
5. Hone your public speaking skills
Once you have your ideas firmly set up, it’s time to work on your speaking skills.
If you want to speak at TED, you need to be comfortable presenting in front of others. Take any speaking engagements you can get your hands on, and consider joining public speaking communities like Toastmasters groups.
6. Get a TED Talk coach
If you want to learn how to get a TED Talk, the easiest way is to work with someone who understands TED Talks inside and out. While this isn’t necessary, it can save you a LOT of time with the training and application process.
TED Talk coaches know exactly how to get on a TED Talk and can coach you on specific speaking styles and application tactics. They will also have information about upcoming events, and can help you create a speaking portfolio that will look impressive to TEDx coordinators.
7. Land a TEDx Talk
Regardless of whether you’re working with a TED Talk coach or not, in order to learn how to get a TED Talk, you need to apply to TEDx events near you.
And I don’t mean just one or two events. Because each TEDx event sees hundreds of submissions for only around 10 spots. Most applicants need to apply dozens of times before they are accepted to give a TEDx speech.
Don’t let this discourage you.
You’ll get better and better at the applications as you go along, and with some persistence, you can land a spot on the stage.
8. Market your TEDx Talk
If you get a TEDx Talk, that is a huge cause for celebration. But your journey to learn how to get a TED Talk isn’t over yet! If you want to get as much exposure as possible for your speech, you need to market it smartly.
You may want to hire a publicist or PR team to help you leverage your talk online. It’s important to use your video in social media ads and email marketing funnels to get as much of an audience as possible for your topic.
And, if you have a published book, this marketing is going to do a world of good for you!
Leveraging your TEDx Talk will help you to further build your brand and book, you guessed it, more speaking gigs!
9. Make it to the big leagues
If you’ve given a spectacular TEDx Talk, and gotten it in front of as many eyes as possible, you are well on your way to learning how to become a TED Talk speaker. In fact, for most people, simply landing a TEDx Talk is good enough!
But if you’re shooting a little higher, working with a TED Talk coach can be especially helpful. They will understand the best way to vie for a spot.
First, it’s a good idea to get your TEDx Talk on the ted.com website. The best TEDx Talks are recommended for an editorial review, where TED staff will ask for united footage, peer-reviewed research, and letters from sources.
If your TEDx Talk makes it on the website and takes off there, there is a good chance you’ll be asked to speak at an official TED conference.
So, if you’re trying to learn how to get a TED Talk, following these steps will go a long way to getting you there. Research, practice, invest in a coach, and keep on trying, and soon you’ll be able to share your brilliant idea with the world.
Want to learn how to speak better?
At selfpublishing.com, we’re about a lot more than just publishing books. Our team is composed of talented public speakers and TED Talk alums who can help you learn the public speaking tips you need to succeed. Reach out for a call today!