A guide to booking your first TED talk.

In the last decade, the TED Conference has transformed and revived the art of public speaking as a platform to share ideas in an engaging and influential way. TED Talks are immensely popular, with the videos having been view more than a billion times online.

The speakers are elite: including Nobel Prize, Pritzker Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, Tony winners, and MacArthur “genius grant” recipients.

TED also seeks out all kinds of experts from artists, musicians, poets, to scientists, philosophers, and thinkers. Sometimes, it’s their TED Talk which launches them into the mainstream which opens a whole new world of opportunities, from book deals to Hollywood movies.

The good news is that there is no age, nation, or niche barrier for being a TED speaker, and anyone has a shot at the big stage if they have an idea worth spreading.

The bad news is that it is not an easy feat. The TED Conference curators consider about 10,000 applications for only about 65 slots on the main stage.

Let’s get into how to get on the stage.

Spreading ideas: Your intentions matter

Before we dive into how to find the perfect topic for your future TED Talk, we need to talk about intentions.

There are so many speakers clambering to get on the TED stage to advance their reputations, and while this is not surprising, it is a turn-off for the organizers (and the audiences).

If you are looking to get on the stage to sell something, promote your business or organization, or increase your fame and influence, the TED organizers are going to see right through it and bypass you.

And while dozens of people might have told you that your story is inspiring, unless your story is going to change the world, this is probably not the platform for telling it.

There is a good chance that someone somewhere has already told a story about overcoming adversity, meeting challenges, and excelling in their life. What is it about your story that is different that can change the world?

Are you TED-ready? Here is a quick checklist:

  • You genuinely want to help others.
  • You have a big, original idea, worth spreading around the world.
  • You have something to say that is truly extraordinary: your story is really a remarkable journey, you are one of the top experts in the world on your topic, your passion for your hobby or occupation can inspire thousands of people, or you have insights into something that no one else in the world does. Basically, you have something big to say.
  • You know how to be authentic and vulnerable. You are ready to reveal your failures, weaknesses, or setbacks with everyone in order to show how you got to your big idea.
  • You are coachable. If your TED coach says, “No, you should cut this or that. It will make your talk stronger.” you can accept the advice and work with it.

It’s not you. It’s your idea.

We are not really inviting people. We are judging the idea. It has to be something we have never heard of or a new way to present something.”

-Denis François Gravel from TEDxQuebec.

First things first: TED is all about ideas. Specifically, ideas worth spreading.

You need to have something original and important to say to the world. It doesn’t really matter what your experience or expertise is. You need to have a message that is innovative and world-changing.

What is the idea that you have to share?

What makes your idea different from what has already been shared?

Is your story truly intriguing?

Is your story that is truly intriguing?

“We’re looking for people who are doing something really important or thinking of something in a new way, and can communicate it really clearly, directly, with passion, and authentically.”

-Kelly Stoetzel is a content director for TED

Does your message meet an unmet need?

Are you saying something new?

Does your idea help the world?

These are the factors which set the difference between a talk and a TED Talk.

As for the idea, you’re on your own.

Getting on to the TED stage isn’t easy, and for good reason. It’s a venue for exceptional, revolutionary thinkers who have ideas that are meant to change the world.

Too many speakers are keen to get on the TED stage and are willing to talk about anything to get there, but saying, “I can talk about anything. What would you like me to talk about?” comes off as though you actually have nothing important to say. Having one crystal-clear idea you want to share will help you get a lot further than broadly saying, “I can talk about anything.

Get on topic

So, where do you start when it comes to finding that great, spreadable idea?

Start with what you are genuinely passionate about.

Then look at where that passion overlaps with your expertise: figure out how it connects with your profession, education, or experience.

Get on topic

Now, you are starting to get into your niche. Figure out what you have to offer that no one else does.

Once you’ve got a general idea for your topic, you’ve got to spend some time refining it and building your social proof.

Start building your talk and influence, now.

Even though you believe your idea for solar-powered transport ships can transform the world, without a background in transport ships or renewable energy, or experts from those fields who agree with you and back you up, unfortunately, its going to be challenging for you to get on the stage.

Spend some time getting that social backing and influence if you don’t have it already.

(Want to go more in-depth on this idea? Becoming a thought leader in your niche)

Once you have your topic, you need to refine the idea until you can get it across in one succinct sentence that explains it clearly.  

The sentence might not include all the points, it might not be the catchy title, or have all the stories you will tell, but you need to figure out a way to get your idea down that is short, intriguing, and clear.

Once you’ve got your topic and succinct sentence, don’t wait until you are on stage to start talking about it: build a blog, create a website, and get active on social media to start spreading the idea.

Start giving talks, free or paid, and get in front of audiences to refine it. Look at these talks as an opportunity to test out your ideas, stories, facts, and insights on an audience to see what resonates and works the best.

Note: there’s also a chance you might attract the attention of a TED curator, team member, or organizer who will then invite you to give a talk. Don’t be afraid of getting in front of as many audiences as you possibly can to increase your chances of the right person being there.

Once you’ve got your idea, you’ve practiced talking about it, and you’ve built some influence, it is time to start applying.

Start with TEDx

There are literally thousands of TEDx events happening every year around the world, and being on TEDx is the perfect launch pad to get on the big TED stage.

The TEDx Talks are made into videos which are posted on the TEDxTalks YouTube Channel. This not only gives you great exposure but, additionally, all the videos are reviewed by the TED team once they are uploaded. That means your video might give you the chance to be discovered by the TED curation team.

Also, if you link to your TEDx video in your TED application, this might help get you on the shortlist.

So, how do you get on TEDx?

Start by researching future TEDx events. Start with your area or language and start following them.

Figure out when the events are and what the topics are going to be.

Get involved with the community and organizers.  

Keep your eye on their website or social media pages. They may announce when they’re accepting applications for their next event.

Some TEDx events will even put out an open call for speakers—so keep your eyes open.

Make sure you start this at least several months before the upcoming event. If you are reading about the TEDx in the newspaper, (or whatever major news feed source you follow) you are far too late to become a speaker—they will have chosen their speakers months ago.

Look at your key TEDx’s editorial calendars, see what the topics are and figure out how you can fit into the topic. Don’t pitch a topic that would have been great at their last TEDx conference. Be ahead of the curve and pitch an idea that fits perfectly into their upcoming one.

The application

Keep in mind that you will likely have to apply many months in advance of the actual TEDx event.

Three places to find out which TEDx Conferences are accepting applications:

  • The TED website
  • SpeakerHub
  • Google search: “Upcoming [year] TEDx events in [location]”

Once you have one or two TEDx events you think your topic would be perfect for, it’s time to apply!

Each TEDx event organizer creates their own application process, so while one application may require you to submit a video, another might need you to answer some essay questions. Make sure you know what is required for the particular TEDx you are applying for.

The organizers will want to know who you are and what your idea is, so you can start formulating these ideas immediately, even if you don’t have an upcoming TEDx Conference you can apply for.

When applying, remember:


  • Pitching yourself as a motivational speaker.
  • Pitching your business or organization. Remember: TED and TEDx Conferences are all about the ideas.
  • Offering the same presentation and talk you’ve been doing for years. A new spin or a fresh idea will be more attractive.
  • Thinking they will want you simply because you are an expert. It has to be about your new, world-changing idea.
  • Cutting and pasting your speaking proposal from another application or any other information already floating around about you; including bios used on social media or other websites.
  • Using a ghostwriter or assistant to apply for you. Your voice is unique: use it.
  • Using jargon or overly-complicated, industry-specific language. While you might want to sound like an intelligent expert, if the organizer cannot understand your ideas, you aren’t going to get past the application phase.

Make sure you:

  • Present an idea that is worth spreading. What makes your idea unique and transformative?
  • Are authentic and kind. Once again, you are the conduit for your idea. They are not interested in your ego.
  • Put your passion, excitement, and energy at the forefront. Get them as excited about your idea as you are.
  • Show how your idea can impact the lives of others and the world.

Once you’ve finished your application, had it proofread, and it is ready—be courageous and press submit. Remember, everyone has a shot at the big-stage if they have an idea worth spreading.

That being said, even if your application was perfectly written, sometimes your proposal won’t be accepted. There might be other speakers whose ideas fit the goal of the conference better or another speaker whose topic is very close to yours who has already been selected.

But, don’t lose hope. There are thousands of events every year, and some cities run TEDx Conferences multiple times a year. Just keep applying.

From TED.com: A few things to know before you apply

  • Set aside some uninterrupted time to think and really be thorough in filling out the application.
  • You can save and return to the application at any time if you’d like to take a break in the middle. Simply save your responses using the button at the bottom of each page and access the form again through your TED.com profile.
  • Pay special attention to your favourite websites and your personal references. We love to see what you share about yourself through these, and we follow up on both. If you would like to share links to your presence on social media, make sure your profiles are set to Public.
  • Read up on our registration policies. We actively seek new members who are leaders in their field and who can make a strong contribution to the TED community through their energy, influence, and connections to change the world.

Reimagine the Purpose of Your Business

There’s been so much talk in business about your why, your purpose, your mission. All of those are great in clarifying what you want out of your work, your business, but it can be a very narrow viewpoint when it is only about what your business will do for you.

You can have a much greater vision.

You can and do affect others. How do you want that effect to land? Do you want to do good? You can, with your business. 

That’s what impact is all about, having a vision not just for yourself, but also for others, for what you can contribute to making the world a better place. impact is the harmonious blend of your personal interests and your contributions to others that increases your financial performance right along with your influence.

To reimagine the purpose of your business, consider what impact you want to have with your business. Look at that impact from a high level. Condense it into a single statement so that it can serve as a beacon for your business. Here’s an example:

Left Coast Naturals is a B-corp that manufactures and distributes organic and natural foods. They operate with a triple bottom line philosophy (people, planet, and profit) and see an opportunity to have a positive impact on society with business. Their vision statement, in this case aligned with their Impact Purpose, is: “To be an inspiration to society and a force for positive change.” So even though their products are foods, and their tasks are manufacturing and distribution, their Impact Purpose is on a higher, broader, and deeper level.

For you, this can be a process of multiple iterations, so be prepared to do this work over several days or even weeks.

Once you have your Impact Purpose statement, you can start to infuse your impact throughout your company, from strategy all the way through your marketing and operations. That infusion is critical to implementing a high-minded vision in day-to-day decisions and actions.

Even if you’ve done the visioning and mission statements for your company, reimagine them in the context of impact. How do you want to contribute as a company?

Ursula Jorch is a speaker, business coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurs grow a successful business that makes a difference in the world. A 21-year successful entrepreneur herself, Ursula helps you define the difference you want to make in the world and develop strategy and marketing so you have ever-expanding impact. 

Find Ursula on her podcast, Work Alchemy: The Impact Interviews where she interviews impactful entrepreneurs and leaders like Seth Godin and Marianne Williamson, and at WorkAlchemy.com for free resources for you and your business.

This article was originally published at https://www.workalchemy.com/business-purpose-mission-why-impact and has been syndicated with permission.

Power Amplifies: Are You Using It To Have Impact?

The real hidden jewel in being an entrepreneur is who we become in the process of making a business work. It is our own transformation that is so compelling.

One aspect of that journey is power. When you lead a company, you have the power to make changes and decide on direction. You have the power to hire and fire. You have the power to have impact.

Power amplifies. The effects of what you do resonate throughout your organization. That makes it even more important to show up as the person you want to be, to have the impact that you want to have.

We see examples of this all the time in the public realm. People really show themselves when in a position of power. They make choices about how they show up, and their power increases the impact of that.

As human beings, we are born to grow. When we stand still, when we consistently choose comfort over challenge, we start to decay. It’s not just our bodies. It’s our minds, our hearts, and our spirits that start to break down.

Above all, as an entrepreneur, you are choosing growth, not just for your company, but for yourself as well. Who do you need to become in order to have the company you want to have? You’ll never have that business without becoming who you need to be.

That starts with and is grounded in how you show up for every interaction. How are you entering into conversations? How are you choosing to use your time? How are you showing up for meetings?

Those everyday choices constitute how you show up.

Power can also amplify impact. When you have power, you can influence and make decisions that increase your company’s impact.

Here’s an example: one of my clients, let’s call her Kate, started her business doing everything herself. She was resourceful, independent, and really hard working. As her business grew, she needed to involve more people.

Kate is not a natural collaborator. She’s most comfortable working on her own. But her vision for her business included wanting to have impact on a big group of people, and she just couldn’t do it all herself. She had to collaborate. And her growing business required her to travel, and she just couldn’t oversee everything with her usual detailed eye.

So Kate learned to be a collaborator. She grew into being someone who could have a motivated and effective staff. She learned to let go of control, a big deal for her, and allow others the latitude to put their own ideas into action without having to check with her first.

The great thing about transforming to be the person you need to be to create your business is that it ripples into other parts of your life. Kate’s teenage kids also found her releasing control at home as she got more comfortable with that way of being, allowing them more independence. They surprised her with how much initiative they were willing to take when allowed the space to do so.

This growth that you’re being called to, your own transformation, is implicitly linked to your impact. 

When you choose to treat your team members with respect for them and for what they themselves want to contribute, you are making a positive contribution. When you choose to treat your clients with respect for what they say and what they are trying to accomplish, you are making a positive difference. When you choose recycled toilet paper and printer paper, you are also contributing in a positive way.

These thoughtful decisions based on the clarity of your own desired impact help to shape your organization. They also lead you to become the person who shows up as an impactful leader, in a way that supports the business you want to have. They lead you to your own transformation, into the person you need to be so that your vision for your business can come to life.

There’s one final layer to impact, one final layer in your own transformation. Starting with the knowledge that impact is based in love, love for yourself, for others and for the world in which you live, you can have impact on every person you meet. You have impact with every person connected with your business, from your clients to your team members, and out into your physical and online communities, and from there, into the larger world.

That’s how your own transformation links you to the transformation of everyone you’re connected with, and through all of us, the world.

When you choose how you show up at work, and in the world, it’s bigger than just you. You have power. You can use it to have more impact.

Ursula Jorch is a speaker, business coach and consultant who helps entrepreneurs grow a successful business that makes a difference in the world. A 21-year successful entrepreneur herself, Ursula helps you define the difference you want to make in the world and develop strategy and marketing so you have ever-expanding impact. 

Find Ursula on her podcast, Work Alchemy: The Impact Interviews where she interviews impactful entrepreneurs and leaders like Seth Godin and Marianne Williamson, and at WorkAlchemy.com for free resources for you and your business.

This article was originally published at https://www.workalchemy.com/power-leadership-impact and has been syndicated with permission.

What’s happening

I thought it would be a good idea to update everyone on what is happening at the moment.

Workshops – All workshops run from 10.00am – 12.00pm

Wimborne – 2nd Monday of every month at the Allendale Centre

Weymouth – 1st Thursday of every month – Starfish Enterprise (new Address) 1 Dorchester Road, Weymouth. It is right in the middle of the one way system, so depending on which way you come you can access the car park either first or by going around the system and coming back on yourself.

Bridgewater – Last Thursday of the month – Victoria Park Community Centre, Victoria Park Drive, Bridgewater.

ONLINE – 3rd Thursday of ever month 7.00pm- 9.00pm Zoom call

I need people to book for their podcast interview as soon as possible. I would like to get your pages up onto the website and it is good for you to have it on your website.

I am getting checklist up on the site so take a look in case one is just what you need.

I don’t speak for free

20 professional speakers weigh in: What is the best way to say "I don't speak for free."

Speaking for free is a hot topic for speakers. When you are first starting out it is a fantastic way to hone your craft, and is an essential step in learning how to create content and stage presence that resonates with audiences.

But eventually you will need to transition from speaking for free to getting paid to speak, and learning how to say this directly to event organizers can be challenging at first.

In this post we’ve collected advice from 20 professional speakers on how they do it and what, exactly, they say.

This advice originates from a discussion in our LinkedIn professional speaker’s group, “Need a Speaker / Be a Speaker.” See the full discussion by joining here.

What to say

I get to the point by saying, “What kind of budget do you have?
Jessica Crew


What kind of budget do you have?

“I let them know that I volunteer my time, the same as the person I am talking to. However, this is my career. “I wouldn’t be able to continue to help people if I didn’t get paid.” Also, “I want to make sure your event participants have the best possible experience. That only happens if you are willing to bring in a professional speaker. When you give your participants value, that is what will bring them back to your event next year, and they will be willing to pay YOU for that.”
Spencer Horn, M.S., CTPC

“I say “My speaking fee is $1000. Give me some details and let me see what I can work out.
Dian Bulen Lusher

My approach is to say, “I would love to provide this information to your audience. My fee is xx.” Then they say, “Oh, well that’s out of my budget,” and I reply, “OK. So tell me more about your budget and let’s see if we can work something out.”
Elizabeth McCoy Employment Services

“I politely say they are not paying me to speak for an hour. They are paying for my years of expertise and experience.”
Dane L. Logan

“I use this approach, I say “If you have no budget for this speaking engagement, can you give me contact information to peers that I can approach? Speaking is my business. Like any business, there’s a cost involved. And a value to the customers who purchase it.”
Richard Oberbruner


If you have no budget for this speaking engagement, can you give me contact information to peers that I can approach

“I find this pretty effective: “This sounds like a wonderful opportunity that I’d love to consider with my speaking schedule.  Would you prefer I send you my rates or do you have a few minutes to discuss payment of services now?
Heather Heuman, M.A.

“If you can’t sell from the stage, then be very concerned about your time and request that they pay, at the very least, for your transportation, meals, and expenses. You can turn it into a vacation for you and a partner.”
Holly Landau

How to say it

“I like to tell it straight: ‘There are circumstances when I am willing to waive part or all of my speaking fee. I would be happy to explore those with you if you would like.’ They can give the opportunity to sell from the stage, or they can buy a copy of my book for every participant, or something else that can bring in more revenue than my fee. This probably won’t lead to a deal if they really expect free speakers, but I don’t like to shut down the conversation until we have discussed the possibilities.”
Alfred Poor

“You have to practice, practice, practice, just like you do when you are preparing your experience for an audience, so that you can look anyone in the eye and quote your fee without blinking!  Has to be natural and flowing!”
Sue Falcone


You have to practice

I answer the question directly by saying, “Sorry, but I don’t speak for free anymore. The only free speeches I give these days are for charities.”  Then I just pause. (Note:  “non-profit” does NOT mean “charity.”)
Joel Hochberger

I just make sure I clearly state on my website and on my bio: “I am a paid professional speaker…
Ralph Graves

When to say it

As part of the initial conversation, I ask, “Do you have a budget for this event?
Cheryl Lampard

“When discussing a speaking engagement, always include your fee as if it is a part of everything you do. What you speak about, how long the talk ifor, what you will need as far as ancillary help, and what your fee is.”
Joanne Dougan, M.Ed.


When discussing a speaking engagement, always include your fee as if it is a part of everything you do

“I thank them for the invitation, ask for details about the event and audience, is it a paid ticket event. Then go on to explain my fee. I watch the body language and hear the reply, if it is around budget or the likes. I say I will follow up with a letter. In that letter I state my fee and put a proposal to them as to how they can have me speak for either xyz to suit budget or free if they provide further opportunities, a letter of recommendation, and allow me access to contact info of the audience, a display table outside the main area for books and to promote my programs .”
Gwenda Smith

“I say upfront what my fee is and that depending on their circumstances and the cause/event, I am willing to consider adjusting it accordingly.”
Nigel Lurrie

Should you consider speak for free?

“There’s a difference between ‘speaking for no fee’ and ‘speaking for free.’ So it really depends on the opportunity and what you are considering turning down. I speak for a fee and I speak in strategic rooms with no or minimal fee, but I always generate revenue. If I collect a fee of $10k or greater, then great, otherwise I ALWAYS negotiate an opportunity to collect leads and or make an intro offer. There are a number of ways to collect leads informally. The fee is nice, but it’s far more important to have a plan to convert your visibility. Getting paid for a gig is still trading time for dollars—you can do better.”
Jim Padilla

“I’ll consider speaking for free if the audience is a target-rich environment (C-Suite executives, association executives, director-level folks, etc.), so usually, I find out who is in the audience before telling them I don’t speak for free. Never say never—because we’ve all heard the stories about a free speech turning into a 5-figure engagement or two from someone in the audience.”
Donn LeVie Jr., CFE


target-rich environment

“As a part of my marketing plan I allow for 2 no fee or low fee programs a year. They must fit my criteria of an audience full or at least 80% full of prospects who are my primary target market & attendees must have the authority & ability to pay my fee. I also allow for 2 free programs a year that are a 100% give back to the community. So when someone calls it’s easy for me to explain that their request isn’t a fit for me. I also ask if they are open to sponsorship and sometimes they are more than happy to find a sponsor to cover my fee.”
Carol Cambridge