• Rhyan Ahmed

Five things to remember when applying to be a TEDx speaker

It pretty much goes without saying that TED and the TEDx program has created one of the most far-reaching and magnificent platforms in the world for the advancement of great ideas. The ideas that have graced the TED and TEDx stages around the world have shaped how we, as a global community, think about life, technology, art, science, happiness and so much more. So what makes for a really great TEDx Talk? There's no set formula to answer that question, but our team of TEDx organisers and experienced TED members have put together this list of five things to remember when applying to be a TEDx speaker. Keep in mind that although paying attention to these five things will help make your application stronger, it will not guarantee your selection as a TEDx speaker. Also, even if you are selected to be a TEDx speaker, the curation process of your TEDx Talk is very carefully executed, and violations of TED's content guidelines during a speaker's actual TEDx Talk can result in that talk not being published or otherwise distributed.

1) No pseudoscience

As the worldwide TEDx movement continues to grow, reaching more than 400 cities in over 60 different countries, some local TEDx events have been targeted by speakers who make unsupported claims about science and health — from perpetual motion to psychic healing. TEDx's content guidelines firmly state that scientific, medical, medicinal and health related subject matter shared from the TEDx stage must be supported by legitimate and peer-reviewed research. At TEDxMississauga, our team of organisers review our applicants' academic credentials and meaningful experience in each applicant's field of study when considering whether or not a speaker is qualified to discuss a scientific or technological subject matter.

2) It's not about you

It truly is about ideas worth spreading. Many TEDx selection committees, including TEDxMississauga, receive countless applications from speakers whose primary reason for applying is self-promotion and personal branding. These applications are very easy to spot, as they focus largely on the applicant's accomplishments and achievements and do little to propose a meaningful or interesting idea worth spreading. Although the applicant's skills, experience, academic credentials and qualifications are a component of the selection process, it should not be the primary focus of the candidate's application.

3) Prepare with integrity

Ask yourself why you want to give a TEDx Talk, and then prepare your application with the right attitude in mind. Your participation in TEDx should not be motivated by desire to seek fame, fortune and recognition, but rather by a genuine desire to share an idea worth spreading. Giving a TEDx Talk is like no other form of public speaking, it has a style and methodology that is unique to the TED platform. For that reason, candidates must rigorously prepare their talks to ensure that their presentation will make for a great TEDx Talk. It's important to note that there are right ways to prepare and, surprisingly, some very wrong ways to prepare. It's best to rely upon guidance from authentic sources and official TED guidelines and avoid narcissistic salesmen who may have even given a TEDx Talk at some point, and want to sell you a webinar or system to get onto the TED stage. Our official recommended course for giving a great TEDx Talk is published by Chris Anderson (head of TED) and can be accessed here.

4) No selling from the stage

Unless you have been specifically invited to give a product demonstration, such as Tan Le's "A headset that reads your brainwaves", do not attempt to sell or promote any products or services from the stage, even indirectly. Audiences and selection committees can easily tell when a speaker's talk is largely for the purpose of promoting a product or service, and the talks comes off as boring, disingenuous and crass. The focus of your talk should be on an idea that is educational, meaningful or interesting for the audience. Authors are very commonly invited to speak at TED and TEDx events, and it is not unusual for authors to conduct book signings at TEDx events (in accordance with TED's policies); however, even author's should frame their talks around the ideas addressed in their books and avoid attempts to encourage the audience to purchase their book or comments regarding how many copies of their book has been sold.

5) No political agendas

Although politics and policies are key parts of the global conversation, the TED and TEDx stages are not the place for partisan politics, nor for extremist or inflammatory comments. Obviously, no speaker shall be permitted to advocate for a specific political party, party platform or political leaders in their talks -- nor should speakers insult or belittle political adversaries. In addressing issues of policy and the best interests of local, national and global communities, speakers should focus on discussing concrete problems and specific solutions to those problems.

This article was written by Rhyan Ahmed. He is a lawyer, a founding partner at KPA Lawyers Professional Corporation and the Executive Director of TEDxMississauga.

To apply to be a speaker at TEDxMississauga, visit our speaker application form.

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