How To Become a TEDx Speaker


I love TED and TEDx talks and I’ve been coaching a number of TEDx speakers recently so at the moment I am immersing myself in all things TEDx.

If you’re not familiar with TED, it is a nonprofit organisation devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

The TEDx events I’ve been involved in have had a good representation of women, and in fact the upcoming TEDx University of Edinburgh event has an overwhelming majority of women speakers. However, this is not always the case at TEDx events and Tabby Biddle, Author, Speaker and Women’s Leadership Coach, is on a mission to change this.

Recently I listened to Tabby’s teleseminar on how to become a TEDx speaker; the session was aimed at women who aspire to be on the TEDx stage. Given that many people I meet are keen to promote their ideas via TEDx, I thought I’d share some ideas from Tabby’s teleseminar for securing a speaking slot at a TEDx event.

Firstly, Tabby outlined five key components to giving a great TEDx talk:

  1. Identify your idea worth spreading
  2. Identify why your idea matters to others
  3. Teach the audience something they don’t know
  4. Convince the audience why your idea matters (use storytelling to do this)
  5. Change the audience’s view of the world

She then explained the steps to becoming a TEDx speaker. As a first step, you will need to research future TEDx events at to find out what’s coming up. Sometimes individual events will have an open call for speakers; however, others will consider proposals. Keep in mind that the organisers will likely be looking for speakers at least two to three months in advance.  Most events will have a theme and it is important to respect that and make sure your talk fits in with that theme.

It is useful to get to know the organisers of the event in advance; you will be able to find them and their contact details on the TED website when you research the events. That’s not to say you need to connect with them immediately; consider getting to know them through social media such as reading their profile on LinkedIn or following them on Twitter before making contact.

Finally, when you do make contact, it’s important to pitch yourself as a speaker. You should be able to provide the following information:

  • What is your big idea?
  • Why you? What is your expertise or personal story?
  • An outline of your talk
  • Sample videos of you presenting

In my experience, getting clarity on the big idea is the thing that most people struggle with; if this sounds like you, check out my previous blog post on How to Talk Like a TEDx Speaker.

Once you have your big idea, a reason why people should listen to you, an outline of your talk and some footage of you speaking you will be ready to approach a TEDx organiser. Then when you’ve secured your speaking slot, it’s all about preparation and practice – remember your TEDx talk has the potential to reach a global audience so it’s important to put the time and effort into making sure it is the best it can be.

If you enjoyed this article, click here to access Mel Sherwood’s ‘Top 5 Tips for Public Speaking Success’

Mel Sherwood is a pitch and presentation specialist who prepares ambitious entrepreneurs and business professionals to take centre stage, embrace the spotlight and present with more confidence, credibility and conviction.

Mel's book 'The Authority Guide to Pitching Your Business - how to make an impact and be remembered... in under a minute!' is available on Amazon. To find out more go to or follow Mel on Twitter @MelSherwood_