Saturday, October 06, 2018

How To Be Selected for a TEDx Talk

Several people have asked about the background on how I ended up getting chosen to deliver a TEDx Talk (Link to my TEDx Talk, which released online last week, in the comments below). It was a long journey. When TEDx was created by the TED organization in 2009 it seemed unique and cool. I attended an early local TEDx in Austin, TX in 2010 and watched my friend Steven Tomlinson deliver what I still think of as one of the best TED/TEDx Talks I have ever seen. He was my inspiration. I was hooked. I wanted to speak at one of these events, and I applied to several over the following 8 years (30+ online applications). I was rejected from all of them. A possible reason for rejection, as I was told by several people "in the know" was that I was a professional speaker, and that was not what the local TEDx groups were seeking. That is okay, sometimes things you want are not easy to obtain. And yet several of the people I admire in my profession had done TEDx Talks, so I continued to work to create a more compelling application. I was confident that someday the message of "The Art of Giving Small: Compounded Generosity" would find its way to a TEDx stage.

In my case the trick was to never give up, and to network with other people who had given TEDx Talks. Persistence and accepting that it could take years before the right opportunity arrived was the only reason that I was able to complete this goal. It would have been easy to throw in the towel long ago.

In several cases where I applied I was recommended by former speakers from those events. While I was not chosen, when I had a networking connection to the committee I did have phone calls with people who would make the decisions.

Since TEDx events are independent and local programs, each committee has different ideas of what will make the perfect mix of speakers. Instead of seeing this as negative, I kept a positive attitude that if I was not the right fit, it was not the place for me to speak. I listened to each person who shared advice and kept trying to focus on how to have an idea worth spreading.

The opportunity to speak at TEDx Wyandotte (Kansas City, Kansas) came about via a connection to a friend who had been a speaker at this event the year before. Working with the committee was a good experience, although there was some back and forth on parts of how to present the message. This is a good thing and something to keep in mind if you want to speak at a TEDx event. The organizing committee will want you to show them your body of work and they will want to give advice and council. Some speakers push back on any type of suggestions, but in this case they made me work hard and think about every part of the message I ultimately delivered. In 2018 my goal to present a TEDx Talk was realized, but once I was selected is when the real journey began. I will write more about how to prepare for a TEDx.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

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