If you have glossophobia, you may want to skip to the next blog post. This post is on how to become a TEDx speaker, which will require you to up your public speaking game. And glossophobia, in case you didn’t know, is the fear of public speaking.

Most business leaders or influencers have heard of TED. It is an organization that gives speakers an international platform to share “ideas worth spreading” via TED Talks. The talks can be no longer than 18 minutes and must focus on technology, education, or design. (If you have ever wondered what the “TED” in TED Talk means, it stands for technology, education, and design.) The titles of the most popular TED Talks include “The power of vulnerability,” “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator,” and “10 things you didn’t know about orgasm.” 

Speaking on a TED stage is a sought after gig. Past TED speakers have included icons like Bill Gates, Billy Graham, Bono, and Richard Branson, as well as a former US president and vice president. For others not so famous, such as Brené Brown, the TED stage has provided a huge boost in credibility and exposure.

If you are a business leader or influencer, becoming a TED speaker is a great step to take. It identities you as a thought leader who has “ideas worth spreading.” It also gives you an impressive asset for your portfolio. However, getting invited to give a TED Talk is not easy. But getting an invite to TEDx is much more doable.


The Difference Between TED And TEDx

The TED Conference is an annual event that involves approximately 100 speakers. The list for TED 2020 included Malala Yousafzai, Jane Goodall, and Dr. Bernice King, which shows that the bar is rather high. That’s where TEDx comes in. 

The difference between TED and TEDx is primarily the audience upon which they are focused. Whereas TED conferences focus on ideas that have global implications, TEDx conferences have a regional focus. The “x” in TEDx means it is an independently organized event. They are grassroots initiatives that cater to innovators and creators with less influence or credentials than a TED candidate. They happen in smaller venues all over the world all the time. On April 9, 2022, for example, there were more than 30 TEDx events happening in locations stretching from Chilliwack, Canada, to Hyderabad, India, to Sydney, Australia.

As you can imagine with that quantity of events, the bar is lower for becoming a TEDx speaker. But is it worth it? If your goal is spreading your idea and your brand to a huge audience, then it is. Brené Brown’s “The power of vulnerability” talk that has been viewed 57 million times was a TEDxHouston talk. Simon Sinek’s “How great leaders inspire action” talk was a TEDxPuget Sound talk and it has been viewed 58 million times. In terms of the initial audience, the difference between TED and TEDx is significant. But if you have an idea worth spreading, TED will get it out there even if it is first delivered at a TEDx event.


How To Become A TEDx Speaker: Finding An Idea

According to Plato, wise men speak because they have something to say and fools speak because they have to say something. TEDx is not looking for fools. If you want to become a TEDx speaker, you need to start with an idea worth sharing.

One way to approach developing your TEDx pitch is thinking of the event as a publication that has an audience passionate about a specific topic. The editors of any magazine, just like the organizers at TEDx, are looking for content that will excite and inspire their audience. In general, the topic will focus on something in the realm of either technology, entertainment, or design. Often, however, TEDx events have more specific themes. For example, TEDxProvincetown, which happens in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in June, has the theme “HyperLocal.” For that event, the audience will be looking for ideas on innovations in local systems like government, waste management and energy.

Does this mean you need to be or become an expert on a TEDx theme to be considered as a speaker? No. But it will require you to find the way in which your passion and the TEDx theme intersect. For example, your company may develop drones. Can you imagine a way in which drones could help local farmers to become more efficient? Becoming a TEDx speaker requires developing an understanding of how your ideas can benefit others.

If finding the broader relevance in your passion is challenging, a public relations firm can help. PR publicists are experts at finding how a client’s story connects with a specific audience. Their business is pitching those stories to media outlets. They may be able to help you to find and to pitch your story to TEDx.


How To Become A TEDx Speaker: Developing Your Talk

Once you discover your idea worth spreading and you pitch it successfully to a TEDx event, the next step is preparing and perfecting your talk. Most people are not natural public speakers. That means most people’s biggest TED Talk anxiety is delivering your talk. The only way to overcome TED Talk anxiety is to push through with practice and support.

Here is a bonus tip for you on how to become a TEDx speaker: You cannot do it alone. Recruit a TEDx team to support, encourage, and critique you. If you can’t find volunteers, hire someone. Your TEDx Talk anxiety will be a lot easier to deal with if you have support.

Preparing to deliver your talk is a lot like preparing to run a marathon. You should not expect that you will be ready for success at the beginning of your training. Start slow and build. Outline your 18 minutes. Flesh it out with content that is informative, engaging, and inspiring. Then practice again and again. Let your team hear our talk as often as you can. They can help you to know what makes sense, what inspires, what needs revising, and what needs cutting.


How To Become A TEDx Speaker: Commit To Becoming A Public Speaker

Even with an idea worth sharing, your pitch could still be rejected. If that happens, don’t give up. Find somewhere else to give your talk even if it is just in a video for your social media followers. Perhaps a local business leaders group would like to hear it. Maybe a local high school would be interested. If you believe in your idea, find a stage and start spreading it to others. It might be that your time for TEDx has not yet come. When it comes, make sure you are ready.

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