top of page

How to become a TEDx speaker

A common question I receive from speakers is, "How can you become a TEDx speaker?"

I've coached and worked with several speakers to help them get on the TEDx stage. I'm sharing this process with you in hopes you can too.

I was fortunate to be asked to present at TEDxWakeForestU. My talk reached near 500,000 views and then it was taken off YouTube for reasons that still make no sense to me. Oh well, I'm still slightly bitter but luckily I was able to repost the video ... albeit I lost all the original views.

(Note: my TEDx talk is still my most viewed demo video)

In further disclosure, I also served on the Executive Committee for several other TEDx events - usually as a Speaker Coach. And most recently in 2016, I had the honor of being the Curator (i.e. fancy term for "head organizer") for TEDxRaleigh.

I share my background with you so you understand my experience as not only a TEDx speaker, but also an Executive Committee member and a Curator. If you want to become a TEDx speaker and get on the TEDx stage, I can help. Keep reading ...

First off, you need to know the difference between TED and TEDx. In layman's terms, TED is the big kahuna umbrella organization. TED is akin to McDonald's headquarters versus McDonald's franchises. TED hosts national and int'l events only a few times per year. To be selected as a speaker for TED, and in some cases even attend, it's invite-only. Either your name precedes you OR you have a rockstar TEDx talk that went viral.

On the other hand, TEDx events are the independently run smaller events, such as TEDxOrlando, TEDxRaleigh, or TEDxAustin. There are thousands of TEDx events held all over the world each year. Your chances of being selected as a TEDx speaker are far, far greater.

I'd encourage you to focus on TEDx, and specifically, a TEDx event in your state.

Once you find the events nearby, it's fairly simple to become a TEDx speaker and get on the TEDx stage. Being selected as a TEDx speaker is very similar to how you woul approach a conference committee or a meeting planner for your speaking business.

You should know that TEDx event organizers run their event as they wish. Some have a Call for Speakers and allow speakers to submit information and be interviewed. Other organizers hand-select their speakers and don't provide any submission process. Some groups do a hybrid model ... it's all to their discretion.

When we coordinated TEDxRaleigh in 2016, we went with a hybrid model. We sought after a short list of speakers we wanted, but we also posted a Call for Programs. Click here to view the TEDxRaleigh application we used in 2016 which still to this date, is one of the most rigorous application processes I've ever seen. Our philosophy was to screen people at the very beginning. Otherwise, we would have have 500+ submissions.

How the TEDx organizers run their speaker selection process will impact your likelihood of being selected.

Below I am sharing a recommended roadmap for you to become a TEDx speaker. After reading, if you would like to schedule a coaching call where I help you find TEDx opportunities, simply send me an email to

1. Know upfront that it will require diligent homework and follow through on your part.

2. Visit the TED/TEDx website and search for events near you. Click here for the link.

3. Research each event website and explore when their event is, how they are finding their speakers, what their theme is, etc. You might have to dig online to find their website separate from the TEDx website, or perhaps you'll find their event on social media. Some events have much better online presence than others.

(Note: events coming up within the next 1-3 months likely already have their speakers selected (or should). I'd focus on the events 3-9 months out.

4. Tailor your speech angle so it fits their theme (if applicable). Focus on articulating why your presentation is "an idea worth spreading" - the TED motto and purpose. If you find 10 different events with 10 different themes, then you'll need to differentiate 10 different angles to communicate how your speech fits that specific theme. This requires focus and work - and work ethic - but getting on that TEDx stage and becoming a TEDx speaker is worth it, yes? When the Executive Committee/Curator reviews your content, you want them to immediately think, "WOW, this person would be perfect for our event!" (again, this really is no different than submitting for a professional conference)

(Another note: you must actually have "an idea worth spreading." If you're not sure what you would talk about, then you probably shouldn't be on the TEDx stage. You must have something inside your brain, and through your experience, that compels you to feel like an expert. If you're unsure, then reach out to me and we can discuss what your TEDx talk could look like.)

Here are some questions to help you identify what your TEDx talk could be:

* What makes you an expert in your topic?

* What have you discovered that can help others?

* What is it that you know about the topic that no one else does?

* What problem does your knowledge help others solve?

* What makes your mindset unique?

* If 10 other speakers had your topic, what makes your presentation different?

5. Once you're confident that your topic/speech is tailored for that particular event and theme, reach out to the Executive Committee. Share the information with them and ask for their reply and guidance on next steps. Act professional. Treat this like your speaking business. Don't stalk though.

6. Follow up 3 days later.

7. Follow up again if needed.

When I spoke at TEDxWakeForestU, over 600 speakers submitted speaker proposals. During TEDxRaleigh, we had near 300 submissions.

So how will you stand out amongst the TEDx competition? Is your idea worth spreading? If so, take action.

I work alongside my coaching clients to help them build their speaking business and find PAID speaking opportunities. If you'd like my help in getting YOU on the TEDx stage, simply send me an email today at I'd be honored to help!


Desire to become a professional speaker?

Not getting the speaking business you had hoped for?

In addition to my own speaking business, I have a passion for helping and coaching speakers develop their own. Whether it's in crafting a speech, identifying target groups who can pay, and/or how to get the speaking gig itself, I can help. I've keynoted over 1,150 presentations in practically every industry you can imagine. My book, PAID to SPEAK, outlines a proven model for speakers. If you are serious about becoming a professional speaker, contact me for a free consultation. I don't want you to flounder like I did and be frustrated. If you're not a subscriber to these speaker articles, submit your email today!


Social media: @ KevinCSnyder

* Download my free app (KevinCSnyder)

Other PAID to SPEAK blog posts ... 
bottom of page