EPISODE 40: How to Land a TED Talk
June 08, 2021


Are you dreaming of standing on a stage next to those three big, red letters? Let’s get you ready to land a TED Talk!

In this episode of Business on the Bright Side, I’m sharing the four P’s to getting booked for a TED Talk!

Jess’ First TedX Talk (1:06)

Ted X Talk vs. Ted Talk (1:47)
Ted X Talk: Localize Events
Ted Talk: Main Events

The Benefit of the Ted X Talk: (2:10)
– You can feature the logo on your site.
– You can prove your speaking ability for a Ted Talk.
– It will propel your speaking career.
– Provides credibility as a speaker.
– Lists you on their speaking directory.

The Four P’s to Land a Ted Talk: (2:54)

Passion: What’s a unique subject or concept that you’re passionate about? (3:09)

Bright Pages Speaker Pathway

Prepare (4:31)

The Importance of Your Ted Talk Title (4:33)

The Transformation Promise (5:25)
Jess’ Transformation Promise: I help audiences become more optimistic by believing that the future is good and they can be the ones to create it.

Practice (7:43)

Pitch (8:57)
1. Apply to all Ted X Talks, not just your local ones.
2. Review the theme of the event to tweak your pitch to fit that theme.

Get my Pitch Templates from Mic Drop Workshop

Set Up Google Alerts & Get Notified (9:47)

Find a Ted X Event
Mic Drop Workshop
Free Keynote Planner
Monday Morning Hype Text: To sign up, text HYPE to 7042289495

Review the Transcript:

And welcome back everyone to Business on the Bright Side. Today, we’re going to be talking about how to land a successful TED Talk. But real quick, before we dive into today’s episode, I’m going to be taking a little hiatus over the summer, starting June 20th and coming back September 5th. So we’re going to be in the Airstream and this is going to be our last summer in the Airstream, so I really just want to take a moment to enjoy it. So I’m taking a quick break from the podcast, coming back September 5th for Season Two. So very important, if you haven’t already, go ahead, hit subscribe and that way you are notified when we return on September 5th. So let’s get to it.

What’s up, everybody? It is Jess Ekstrom and welcome to Business on the Bright Side, the podcast where you can learn how to make a living and make a difference at the same time. Life is short, and so is my attention span, so let’s get started.

Delivering my TEDx Talk absolutely changed my career as a speaker. And to be honest, my TEDx Talk was not even that good. So, please, whatever you’re doing, don’t go search it because it’s not my finest moment. But it was super early on in my speaking career, and no matter if it was good or not, it truly helped shape my career as a speaker because I could have that TEDx logo on my website. I was discovered on the TEDx directory of speakers and the videos. And so having a TEDx Talk is really helpful when it comes to building your personal brand as a speaker, as a writer, and as a thought leader.

Now, if you’re wondering, what’s the difference between a TEDx Talk and a TED Talk, the TEDx Talks are the localized events that happen in different cities or different places. And then the TED Talks are the main events. They typically find the speakers for the TED main stage events by doing a TEDx Talk. So a TEDx Talk is a great place to start. And even though mine wasn’t even that good, it really helped propel my speaking career because I had the logo on my website and I could show that I delivered a TEDx Talk. It’s like a little red badge of honor you can just like slap in your bio or on your website that immediately shows people that, “Hey, I know my shit over here.” It’s like a little red badge of honor that you can slap on your bio or on your website that immediately speaks to some sort of credibility. Plus being listed on the TEDx website has really helped me get discovered by other people who have booked me for gigs.

So first, how do you get there? First, you’re going to need about 10 feet of yarn, Gorilla tape, a ladder and a bucket. Just kidding. You don’t need any of those things. All you need are these four Ps, passion, prepare, practice, pitch. Originally when I was scripting this out, I didn’t even realize that they all started with P, but now it just looks like I had a really good strategy in creating this podcast.

So the first one is passion. Have you ever been in a group conversation and the subject changes to something that like really just revs your engine and lights you up. What is that thing that people are talking about that gets you going? Or what do you spend your time Google searching when you’re trying to fall asleep? Besides sometimes I look at puppy videos. What are some things that you’re so passionate about that you’ve crafted a specific or a unique belief around that something that you feel might be able to serve others. Your TEDx subject that you want to speak on has to be something that you’re so passionate about because you love it so much, even if it’s kind of offbeat or weird. Actually it might even be better if it’s weird because that’ll make you stand out because you don’t want your talk to be about something neutral or gray. You want it to be about one solid thing.

So think about what’s a hot take that you have? Or what’s something that you can’t wait to speak on? Or what’s something that when you start writing about the words just start flowing? And if you’re having trouble figuring out what this is, head to brightpages.com, sign up, and choose The Speaker Pathway. That’s a pathway that’s going to help you really work into what is it that you want to be known for and what is it that you want to speak on?

That second P is prepare. One thing I wish I knew about TEDx, or just really speaking in general, is how important your talk titles are. Most likely people will read your title as a gateway to decide whether they’re going to read your pitch or watch your talk. I mean, I’m sure you’ve been scrolling on YouTube before, maybe even watching TED Talks, and you’re just going to look at the title first. So that title has to grab you. I like titles that are a bit edgy. They tell you the general circle that your talk is in, but maybe might keep you guessing a little bit. Try this, scroll on the TEDx website, or even really any social media feed, and think about what are the things that you click on? What are the headlines that get you? Why did you click on it? What about that headline or talk title made you want to watch it?

And when you think about preparing your talk, think about what is that one thing that you want people to leave with? What is that one before and after moment you want people to have by hearing you speak? In Mic Drop Workshop, we call this the transformation promise. This is essentially the ROI of having you as a speaker. So for example, my transformation promise is I help audiences become more optimistic by believing that the future is good and they can be the ones to create it. So everything in my talk is built off of this idea of transforming people to be more optimistic. So all of the pillars of my talk that I give, no matter how long or short it is, is building towards that transformation promise. So what is it that you want people to leave with? And then the meat of your talk is how they’re going to get there.

Hey, real quick. Have you ever felt like you were made for more, but you’re just not sure what it is that you want to create? Or maybe you have a ton of ideas bubbling over like champagne, but you just don’t even know where to begin? A blank page in front of you can feel daunting and overwhelming. So I wanted to create a guided online journal designed to give people the clarity they need to make the world just a little bit brighter. Bright Pages is a guided online journal for people who do.

Here’s how it works. You have your own private journal with a designated login, and each day you get a daily prompt inside the platform, but it’s also emailed to you and you can just reply directly to that email with the prompt, and it will save it into your journal. Technology. Am I right? But one of my favorite Bright Pages features are the prompt pathways. You can pick a pathway based on a goal that you have, whether it’s writing a book, crafting a talk, or maybe starting a business, or even just getting out of a creative funk. Then you’ll get prompts delivered to you for one week based on that specific pathway that you chose. I mean, sign me up.

Business on the Bright Side listeners get a special discount. So head to brightpages.com and enter the code pod to get 20% off the annual plan. That’s brightpages.com, and enter the code pod, P-O-D.

That third P to land a successful TED Talk is practice. Typically when I give close to an hour long keynote, which is really the standard for typical keynotes, I don’t really like being rehearsed or go word for word. However, a TEDx Talk is kind of a different beast. They’re super strict about timing and you need to be concise and direct because you’re talking about one idea. The tagline for TED Talks is ideas worth spreading. So one of the reasons why it’s important to prepare and practice, even when you’re just pitching yourself for a TED Talk is because you want it to be super sharp around one idea. Oftentimes if you lean too neutral, maybe something that’s just purely about motivation, or an inspiring story, without one clear takeaway, it’s going to get lost in all of the pitches that they receive.

So when you practice, instead of mapping it out word for word, have bulleted points that you know you need to hit. So instead of I say writing with a pen, write with a Sharpie. So you’re following along with these big ideas. What are the bubbles that you need to hit? And then you can rehearse the word for word later.

And that last P is pitch. There are so many TEDx events all over the country. For example, I’m from North Carolina, but I gave my TEDx Talk in Ohio. So your chances increase if you’re willing to travel. Of course you can apply to your local events, but don’t just put yourself in one local bucket. Before you apply to a TEDx event, make sure you know the theme of the event and you can tweak your pitch to fit that theme. They get tons of submissions. So they’ll want to know that you took the time to write a submission specifically for their event. That’s why it’s important to incorporate that theme, whatever it is that they have for that event, into your pitch.

In Mic Drop Workshop, I have email templates that I’ve used that have generated the highest conversions that you can use to reach out to TEDx organizers. But here’s something small you can do right now. Set up Google alerts. Google alerts email you, whenever that term that you set up an alert for publishes on the internet. So I actually recommend setting up a different email address because you might be bombarded, but I have Google alerts set up for call for programs, TEDx events, call for speakers, women’s events. And that way we get notified whenever anything publishes. But another way you can search for TEDx events is just by going to the ted.com/tedx/events website. And I’ll be sure to link that in businessonthebrightside.com show notes.

Remember, being a successful speaker is about using your story to help people in their story. And doing that in the form of a TEDx is really just making that more concise into one sharp idea. Head to the show notes on businessonthebrightside.com to check out some free resources that I have for speakers so you can nail that pitch. And just a reminder, we’re taking a quick hiatus this month, so hit subscribe so you know when we’re back on September 5th, but I will still be sending out my hype text every Monday. So if you still want a quick hit of motivation, text me the word hype to (704) 228-9495. That’s the word hype to (704) 228-9495. And I promise it’s actually me on the other end.

I’ll leave you with this. When you’re building your talk, instead of focusing on information, focus more on transformation.

Thanks for listening to Business on the Bright Side with Jess Ekstrom. I love to send out the episodes every Monday with a quick text and a quote from me, so text me the word podcast to (704) 288-9495. That’s (704) 228-9495. And do you want to see what the show notes are from this episode? Head to businessonthebrightside.com, hit subscribe here, write a review and I’ll see you on Monday.


My first speaking gig was for a slice of pizza and now I’m a 7-figure speaker & author.

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