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5 Do’s and Don’ts for Landing a TEDx Talk: Advice from TEDxReno’s President Kaya Stanley

5 Do’s and Don'ts for Landing a TEDx Talk: Advice from TEDxReno’s President Kaya Stanley

We sat down with TEDxReno President Kaya Stanley to hear her thoughts on landing a spot on the TEDx stage. Kaya started volunteering for TEDxReno in 2022 and immediately fell in love with everything about it. With 3 years of experience on the speaker curation committee, here are her helpful tips for those interested in landing a speaking spot on the program.

If you want to land a spot…. DON’T….

    1. … Ignore the instructions. While in some situations in life, the squeaky wheel gets the grease… note that this is not one of them! If the website says to fill out the form, do JUST that. (Sending 12 follow-up linkedin messages will not help.) If the form says we will notify you if we want to move forward, be patient! Sending repeated inquiry emails will be your downfall. In our world– with over 500 submissions– the squeaky wheel gets blocked.

    2. … Disregard the theme. Each TEDx typically choses a theme for their event. This year our theme is “Disruption.” Does your idea support the theme directly? The hundreds of submissions that have nothing disruptive to say are automatically discarded. It is imperative that your point clearly supports the theme at large.

    3. … Propose something that has already been done. Google your idea before submitting to the team. If you see 12 TED or TEDx talks on your idea, it is not unique and won’t be chosen. Find something that is unique to you, and explore what your specific insight could bring to the TED or TEDx stage.

    4. … Make it about you. Is your motivation to do a TEDx talk to help your business, book sales, or promote your coaching biz? If so, this is not the spirit of TED. TED is to promote ideas, not your brand.

    5. … Have your publicist reach out to us. With very few exceptions, we only engage directly with the speaker. Speakers who have a virtual assistant or agent reach out to us do not get chosen.  We require all speakers to engage with us directly, participate in our coaching, and attend all parts of our 2 day event.

    And now for the Dos! DO… 

    1. … Propose an idea. An idea worth spreading is a concept that has value and intellectual significance. It transcends inspirational or motivational speeches. An Idea is not self-promoting, polarizing or divisive. Your idea should go beyond the realm of a pep talk, delving into substantive, thought-provoking content that has the potential to stimulate critical thinking, foster constructive dialogue, and contribute to a deeper understanding of various subjects.

    2. … Keep your application short and to the point. Most of the talks that are chosen are explained in about 3 sentences. If you need 1500 words to explain your idea, you are not TEDx Talk-ready. Hone in on what it is that you are really portraying to your audience.

    3. … Only propose something in which you are an expert. This year we had a literal rocket scientist send in a proposal. Her background peaked our interest. And then… her proposal was about gratitude. We would have likely been very interested in her ideas about rocket science.  Unfortunately, talks about gratitude are neither unique nor thought-provoking, and gratitude is unrelated to her intriguing area of expertise.

    4. … Be experienced in public speaking prior to applying. The TEDx stage is not easy. TEDx talks reach millions of viewers every year and the audience expects to see experienced speakers on stage. If you have never spoken in front of an audience before, go out and get some more experience, then come back to us!

    5. … Get creative. The best TED and TEDx Talks engage the audience in ways nobody has before. The best talks often have something that sets their talk apart from the rest. Break away from traditional presentation formats and incorporate elements that bring the audience in, like fun visuals, humor, or something that encourages audience participation.


    If you are ready to apply to speak at a TEDx, this list ted.com/tedx/events of the worldwide events will come in handy.

    Whether you are planning to do a TEDx talk or not, we hope you will join us on April 6, 2024 at the UNR Lawlor Event Center for our next event themed Disruption. Tickets are 25% off until January 31st and can be purchased here (https://bit.ly/42jjjcw).

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