How to Get a Ted Talk: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Onstage?

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  • February 12, 2024
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  • 9 min read


TED Talks have become synonymous with thought-provoking ideas, inspiring stories, and impactful presentations. These influential talks, covering a wide array of topics from technology to psychology to art, have the power to ignite change, spark innovation, and captivate audiences worldwide. You’re not alone if you’ve ever dreamt of sharing your ideas with the world on this prestigious platform. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about how to land a coveted spot on the TED stage.

What Is a TED Talk vs a TEDx Talk?

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. It’s a nonprofit organization that’s been around since 1984, but it started its famous talks in 2006.

There are two main types of TED talks: regular and TEDx. A TED Talk happens at the official annual TED conference or TEDGlobal conference.

On the other hand, a TEDx talk occurs at a locally organized event. These events can be set up by anyone who gets a free license from TED and agrees to follow certain rules. For example, speakers at TEDx events don’t get paid.

According to Chris Anderson, who leads TED, TED talks tackle global issues, while TEDx talks are more about local topics. He sees TEDx as a way to spread TED’s ideas on a smaller scale, connecting people in their communities.

From an author’s perspective, one big difference is the audience size. TED talks typically have a larger audience than TEDx talks, although some have become popular online.TED talks often feature well-known figures like Nobel Prize winners, former presidents, or tech leaders.

Getting a spot as a TED speaker is tough. You can nominate yourself or apply as a TEDFellow if you’re an emerging innovator.

However, if you’re not breaking records or making headlines, aiming for a TEDx talk might be a better bet. There are over 3,000 TEDx events worldwide each year, making them more accessible. They can also provide significant exposure.

For instance, author Nashater Deu Solheim gave a TEDx talk titled “What Working with Psychopaths Taught Me about Leadership,” which garnered over 400,000 views.

TEDx talks can be more beneficial for many authors. Organizers often work closely with speakers to prepare their talks, offering valuable experience and skills.

They also help authors connect with their local community and the broader TED network, opening up networking opportunities.

How to Get a Spot On The TED Stage?

Start with TEDx

If you dream of speaking at TED, you must take steps. First, aiming for a TEDx talk can be quicker than going straight for a TED talk.

Imagine stepping onto a stage in front of thousands, delivering a powerful talk without notes. It’s quite a challenge! Doing a TEDx talk first lets you get used to this format before facing a global audience.

Just like a writer may start a writing journey by publishing short stories or articles with the help of online platforms, Ghost Writing Founder like, before aiming for a major book deal, speakers can begin by presenting at local events or writing for small publications before aiming for a TED Talk. This gradual progression allows writers to develop their craft, build an audience, and gain the necessary experience and confidence to eventually tackle larger projects or platforms.

Plus, a TEDx talk helps you connect with the TED community. Event organizers are usually well-connected and can offer valuable insights and contacts. Depending on your goals, a TEDx stage might be better for promoting your ideas or brand. So, if TED is your goal, starting with TEDx can be smart.

Study Other TEDx Talks

Study talks that have already been given to increase your chances of landing a TEDx talk. TED talks follow a specific format. Understanding what makes a good TED talk will improve your chances of being chosen as a speaker.

Watch talks by leaders in your field, paying attention to their content, delivery, and ability to engage the audience. Also, get involved in the TEDx community. Connect with past speakers and event organizers to learn from their experiences.

Knowing your audience and what they’re looking for is crucial for success, just like in any marketing endeavor. Do your research before pitching your idea.

Build Your Speaking Portfolio

If you’re confident in your speaking abilities and have a strong idea, you might be ready to pitch directly to TEDx organizers. But if you’re unsure or struggling to generate interest, it might be wise to build your speaking experience first.

TEDx organizers want engaging speakers, so having a track record of captivating audiences is important. Start by gaining experience with smaller speaking gigs to refine your skills. These opportunities help you practice and add credibility to your resume.

If you’re already an experienced speaker, strengthen your persuasive abilities. A well-crafted media kit can showcase your professionalism and commitment to your work. TEDx organizers seek speakers who are dedicated and capable. A solid freelancer portfolio demonstrates your readiness to deliver a memorable talk.

Choosing Your Topic:

The crucial step in delivering a TED Talk is selecting a topic that aligns with your expertise, passions, and experiences. Consider what makes you uniquely qualified to speak on a particular subject and aim to identify a niche angle, fresh tone and perspective that will capture the audience’s attention. Whether sharing a personal journey, exploring a groundbreaking idea, or advocating for social change, your topic should resonate with you and your audience.

Crafting Your Idea:

Once you’ve chosen your topic, it’s time to craft your idea into a compelling narrative that will resonate with TED organizers and audiences alike. Start by distilling your message into a clear and concise takeaway that encapsulates the essence of your talk. Additionally, a captivating title can pique the interest of potential viewers and set the stage for your presentation.

Preparing Your Pitch:

Before stepping onto the TED stage, you’ll need to pitch your idea to the TED team for consideration. Familiarize yourself with TED’s guidelines and requirements for speaker proposals, and ensure that your pitch aligns with their vision and values. Craft a persuasive pitch highlighting the significance of your topic, your unique perspective, and the potential impact of your talk.

Pitching Your Idea:

Finding the right channels to submit your pitch proposal is crucial in increasing your chances of being noticed by TED organizers. Whether through the official TED website, TEDx events, or personal connections, explore all avenues for submitting your proposal. When crafting your pitch email, be concise, compelling, and professional, clearly articulating why your idea deserves a spot on the TED stage.

Creating Your TED Talk:

Once your proposal has been accepted, it’s time to start creating your TED Talk. Begin by outlining the key points you want to convey and structuring your talk for maximum impact. Keep your audience in mind as you craft your narrative, aiming to educate, inspire, and engage them from start to finish. Additionally, consider incorporating visually compelling slides or multimedia elements to enhance your presentation.

Practicing and Rehearsing:

The key to delivering a memorable TED Talk is thorough preparation and practice. Dedicate ample time to rehearsing your talk, focusing on your delivery, timing, and body language. Practice with friends, family, or colleagues to gather feedback and refine your presentation. Remember, the more comfortable and confident you feel on stage, the more effectively you can connect with your audience.

Overcoming Stage Fright:

It’s natural to experience nerves before stepping onto the TED stage, but with the right techniques, you can manage stage fright and deliver a compelling performance. Practice deep breathing exercises, visualization techniques, and positive affirmations to calm your nerves and boost your confidence. Remember, the audience is rooting for you, and your passion for your topic will shine through.

Delivering Your TED Talk:

On the day of your TED Talk, focus on connecting with your audience and delivering your message with clarity and conviction. Maintain eye contact, use expressive gestures, and vary your tone and pace to keep the audience engaged. Be prepared to adapt to any unexpected challenges or technical difficulties that may arise, and trust in your preparation and expertise to carry you through.

Post-TED Talk Actions

After delivering your TED Talk, maximize the momentum to further your impact and reach. Share your talk on social media, engage with audience feedback, and continue to advocate for your cause or idea. Additionally, seize opportunities to network with fellow speakers, TED organizers, and attendees, forging connections that may lead to future collaborations or speaking engagements.

Measuring Success

While the true impact of your TED Talk may not be immediately apparent, there are several ways to gauge its success. Monitor audience engagement metrics, such as views, shares, and comments, to assess the reach and resonance of your talk. Additionally, solicit feedback from viewers and peers to gain insights into the effectiveness of your message and presentation style.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

In the pursuit of delivering a standout TED Talk, it’s important to be mindful of common pitfalls that can undermine your efforts. Avoid overloading your talk with too much information, relying too heavily on slides or visuals, or veering off-topic. Instead, strive for clarity, authenticity, and relevance in your presentation, ensuring that every word contributes to the overall impact of your message.


Securing a spot on the TED stage is a formidable challenge. Still, with dialogue improvement, passion, and strategic preparation, it’s a goal within reach for anyone with a compelling idea and a desire to make a difference. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can increase your chances of delivering a memorable TED Talk that leaves a lasting impact on global audiences.

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