Proven Steps to Help You Land a TEDx Talk and Turbocharge Your Personal Brand

In today’s competitive professional landscape, standing out and establishing a personal brand is more crucial than ever. One powerful way to achieve this is by landing a TEDx talk.

Simple. Right?

Well, not really.

But, there are definite practices to follow to put your best foot forward, and we are going to share them from some of the experts in the TEDx world. It involves an approach that is a blend of strategy and a bit of luck. However, if you are able to receive an invitation, TEDx offers a unique, brand-surging platform to share your ideas, experiences, and stories, positioning you as a thought leader in your field.

I know firsthand because I recently did one. And I will say, the experience is beyond worth it.

TEDx talks have seen a significant increase in interest due to their unique ability to spread innovative ideas and stories to a global audience. These events provide a prestigious platform for thought leaders and experts to share their insights, which helps build their credibility and influence.

Although hard numbers are unavailable, it’s estimated that for each of the more than 3,000 TEDx events held annually worldwide, there can be hundreds of applicants vying for around ten speaking spots, making the selection process highly competitive. This intense competition underscores the value and impact of delivering a TEDx talk. That impact can significantly boost your personal brand, and those looking to do so have several reasons for shooting for a spot on the red dot, and here are a few reasons why.

It Increases Credibility and Authority

Being a TEDx speaker instantly elevates your status as an expert in your field. The TED brand is synonymous with quality and innovation, and associating yourself with it lends credibility to your personal and professional endeavors. According to Geoffrey Berwind, a seasoned TEDx speaking coach and storyteller, “The credential of being a TEDx speaker is so high that people will pay attention and watch your talk all over the world for years.”

It Has a Huge Broad Reach and Evergreen Visibility

TEDx talks are available on YouTube, the second largest search engine in the world, reaching a global audience. This visibility can attract new followers, clients, and opportunities, expanding your influence far beyond your immediate network.

Tom Puketza, Executive Director of Finale Events and the Gainseville TEDX organizer agrees. He has seen dozens of TEDx speakers leverage the platform, with one even going viral.

“A TEDx talk provides a unique platform where you can have a potential impact on a very large scale,” he says. “You never know what talk will resonate the most, but it is out there forever for the world to see.”

Katie McCleary is an author, coach, speaker whose TEDx has more than 1.3MM views at the time of publication and says the TEDX helped her put that stake in the ground to identify her message – the one she plans to build on for her brand.

“If you have an idea worth spreading, TEDx is a wonderful opportunity to highlight your unique idea coupled with your experience in a particular area, “ says McCleary. “ As a thought leader, refining your message and making it stick to audiences is key and the TEDx process and talk will help you create that message.”

Alleah Freidrichs was part of the 2024 Gainesville TEDx lineup. Alleah is a “Law of Attraction” life coach and within a few days of her TEDx launch, she’d already amassed thousands of views. She acknowledges the competitive process and hard work it took to land a chance to stand on the red dot, but says doing a talk has helped elevate her brand and thought leadership.

“I absolutely recommend pursuing becoming a TEDx speaker if you are planning to build a brand or sell anything online,” said Alleah. “It’s an incredible asset for top of the pipeline and authority. It’s worth all the work to achieve it.”

A TEDx Talk Supports Authentic Connection

TEDx is about sharing authentic stories and ideas worth spreading. By presenting a genuine, heartfelt talk, you connect deeply with your audience, fostering trust and loyalty that are essential for building a strong personal brand.

Speech coach Geoffrey Berwind has trained dozens of TEDx presenters and he shares the secret sauce that makes the difference between a good and great TEDx speech. “Storytelling cuts through everything and makes us relatable,” Says Berwind. “It brings things to life and makes us more human.”

Taking the desire to give a TEDx talk and turning it into an actual speaking engagement requires a strategic commitment—one that is not for the faint of heart. Many speakers note that while applying for a TEDx talk is a significant first step, securing a spot is a completely different challenge. It demands dedication, meticulous preparation, and a compelling narrative that resonates with the event’s theme and audience. Some say it took them years and dozens of applications to land a talk, while others share that once they were accepted, they spent 10-20 hours a week perfecting and practicing their speech. It is not unusual for speakers to practice their speech 250 times or more before they step on the stage.

Given the intense commitment and rigorous process required to land a TEDx talk, aspiring speakers must approach their goal strategically. Whether it’s the years spent applying or the countless hours perfecting their message, the journey is demanding but ultimately rewarding.

To help you navigate this path, here are ten tips I have summarized from both Tom Puketza and Geoffrey Berwind for landing a TEDx talk and making your mark on that iconic red dot. For the complete rundown, make sure to listen to The Innovation Economy’s podcast here.

Ten Tips for Applying to Maximize Your Chances of Landing TEDx Talk

  • 1. Identify Your Unique Idea: Your talk should center around a compelling, original idea that resonates with a broad audience. Think about what sets you apart and what unique perspective you can offer. TEDx is looking for “ideas worth spreading,” so ensure your topic is innovative and impactful.
  • 2. Craft a Strong Application: Follow the application guidelines meticulously. Include a clear, concise summary of your talk, a short bio, and a two-to-three-minute video introducing yourself and your topic concisely.
  • 3. Be Authentic and Passionate: Your passion for your subject should shine through. Authenticity is key; share personal stories that illustrate your points and make your message relatable. Berwind advises, “Great storytelling focuses on pivotal moments where you have epiphanies, where there’s a change of direction, a new course of action.”
  • 4. Showcase Your Speaking Skills: While you don’t have to be a professional speaker, demonstrating good speaking skills can help. Practice speaking clearly and confidently on camera to make a strong impression.
  • 5. Highlight Your Expertise: While TEDx is not about selling yourself, showcasing your expertise can help establish your authority on the topic. Share relevant experiences and credentials that lend credibility to your talk. Puketza emphasizes the importance of presenting yourself as “your best self, but still yourself.”
  • 6. Pay attention to the TEDx Theme: Each location has an annual theme. Ensure your speech is not only relevant to that theme but also clearly demonstrates how it supports and enhances it. Tailor your application to highlight the connection between your talk and the event’s focus, showing the organizers that your presentation will provide valuable insights and align seamlessly with their objectives. This demonstrated alignment can significantly boost your chances of being selected.
  • 7. Understand the TEDx Criteria: Familiarize yourself with TEDx’s core principles. No selling from the stage, no fundraising, and the focus should always be on spreading valuable ideas. Berwind explains, “The first rule of TED is no selling from the stage. A good TEDx organizer will be looking for people with something authentic to say.”
  • 8. Be Ready for Rejection: Understand that competition is fierce. Be prepared to apply multiple times and refine your pitch based on feedback. Persistence and resilience are crucial. Berwind advises, “Are you willing to apply many times? Are you patient? Is it an idea worth spreading?”
  • 9. Seek Feedback: Before applying, seek feedback from mentors, peers, or speaking coaches. Constructive criticism can help you fine-tune your message and delivery.
  • 10. Practice, Practice, Practice: Once selected, practice your talk extensively. Rehearse in front of friends, record yourself, and make improvements. The more you practice, the more confident and polished you’ll be. Puketza recommends, “Enjoy the process and remember that it is a job, but also a fulfilling and rewarding experience.”

Integrating a TEDx Talk into Your Personal Branding Strategy Plan

Landing a TEDx talk is a significant milestone, achieved through strategic preparation and a compelling application. By following the ten tips provided, you can increase your chances of stepping onto that iconic red dot. However, securing the talk is just the beginning. A TEDx talk should be a cornerstone of your personal branding strategy. Here’s how to maximize its impact and ensure it resonates with your audience long after the event.

  • Leverage the Video: Share your TEDx talk video across your social media platforms, your website, professional networks, and online groups. Use it as a showcase of your expertise and speaking ability. Embed the video in your LinkedIn profile and include it in your professional portfolio.
  • Content Creation: Use the content of your TEDx talk to create blog posts, articles, and social media updates. This helps reinforce your message and keeps your audience engaged. Break down your talk into smaller, digestible pieces of content to maintain a steady stream of valuable information.
  • Engage with Your Audience: Respond to comments and feedback on your TEDx video. Engage with your audience to build relationships and foster a community around your ideas. Host Q&A sessions or live discussions to further explore the topics covered in your talk.
  • Speaking Engagements: Use your TEDx talk as a stepping stone to secure more speaking engagements. Highlight it in your speaker’s bio and proposals. Mention your TEDx experience in your pitches to conferences and events to increase your chances of being selected.
  • Brand Partnerships: Leverage the credibility of being a TEDx speaker to forge new partnerships and collaborations. Organizations and brands are more likely to want to associate with a recognized thought leader. Use your TEDx talk to approach potential collaborators with a strong, credible background.

A TEDx talk is not just a one-time event but a strategic tool that can propel your personal brand to new heights. By sharing your unique ideas and stories on a global platform, you not only establish yourself as an authority in your field but also inspire and connect with a wide audience. The process of preparing for and delivering a TEDx talk helps you refine your message, enhance your public speaking skills, and build a robust content portfolio.

As Geoffrey Berwind puts it, “Storytelling is the oldest thing we do as communicators, as a species, right? It cuts right through it. It brings things to life. It makes us relatable.” And in the words of Tom Puketza, “TED has so successfully leveraged that brand and legitimized it, and it passes on to any of the speakers.”

So, start crafting your story, follow the tips to land your TEDx talk, and integrate it into your personal branding plan for lasting impact. Your idea might just be the next big thing that inspires and influences people around the world. And that, for sure, is making an impact.

close up photography of black and gray condenser microphone