So You Want to Give a TED Talk

TED talks are going viral and they're raising the bar on public speaking. TED stands for technology, entertainment and design. These videos feature some of the best public speakers who are spreading the most compelling content and ideas. It's tough to be selected as a TED speaker. So on a community level, presenters are forming local events called TEDx. Jeremy Donovan, the speaking sherpa, organized his own local TEDx event and shared his experience and secrets to being a TEDx presenter. Anybody can organize a local event. The caveat is that an organizer cannot be a speaker for the same event.

Donovan, who's been a TEDx organizer and speaker told the audience that speaking at TED is all about the story. Not every TEDx presenter is a top speaker but the one thing they all have in common is an inspiring story. He shared his formula for creating stories. Citing the movie Star Wars, Donovan deconstructed the hero's journey as a typical structure for inspirational stories. The two most important elements that are consistent in the highest rated TED presentations are storytelling and humor. He advised using humor within the first two minutes of your presentation.

While all TED talks are timed for 18 minutes, a TEDx talk can be 3 minutes, 5 minutes, or 18 minutes. Donovan gave one speaker a 5 minute slot because he wanted the audience to hear his story while protecting him from a lack of platform experience.

A big mistake first time motivational speakers make is to extol their own virtues. He warned that the audience must be able to relate and that being humble goes a long way.

How do you get selected for a TEDx talk? As in life, networking is the best way to make contact with an organizer. The interview process may require a video of your presentation as well as a marketing platform. When Donovan was an organizer, he expected presenters to have at least 500 linkedin contacts. As in publishing, the TEDx organizer needs help in promoting the event.

Can anybody be a TEDx speaker? Probably not-unless they have an inspirational idea worth spreading.