In 48 hours I’ll be speaking at TEDxSMU… and I’d like to share how this happened in case you are looking for your path to TED
Three years ago I decided I wanted to do a TED Talk. I applied through TED.com and was rejected. It was probably over-ambitious, but you don’t know that kind of thing without the benefit of hindsight. Once I found out I had more to learn, I made it my goal to raise my game to the point where I could earn the stage.
To start, I mocked up the homepage of TED with my face on it. This served as my laptop’s background for more than a year, so I knew what I was working for each day. Yes, I’m serious. Here it is:
In 48 hours I’ll be speaking at TEDxSMU, my actual title is “How Great Men Think Alike” and I’m totally ready for this shot. I’d like to share how this happened in case you are looking for your path to TED…
1. Build/create/do something worth talking about
I knew I needed to create something worth talking about, so I started by asking “what am I good at, that I love doing, that I know will help people in a big way?” It took me a few years to build a solid program (The EmpowerMentorship Institute) and then to test it and mold it and grow it.
2. Start talking about the thing you do
If a tree falls in the forest and nobody sees it on Facebook, did it really happen? Don’t worry about being viral… just be consistently vocal and vulnerable. Last year I began speaking about my work at universities and civic meetings. Since then I’ve gotten some press and I’ve buckled down to write and edit posts out on the web (including here at the Good Men Project). The more you do this, the more you hone your message.
3. Ask for the opportunity you want
When you’ve gotten some confidence and you’re ready to tell the world about your big idea… ask for the opportunity you want. Find a TEDx that you’re connected to somehow, find the organizer, and send an email saying “hi, I’m connected to you somehow, and I have an idea that I believe to be worth sharing.” I did this with TEDxSMU (at my alma mater), and got an immediate response to connect.
4. Follow Up
Once you’ve made the connection, follow up! It took 6 back and forth calls/emails to finalize my spot on the roster. It takes a lot of work to put on a conference like TEDx… the organizers are busy and they need people like you who are dependable. My grandfather is a fisherman and he used to tell me that some fish will practically jump into the boat if you let them. Be the fish that jumps into the boat.
5. Deliver your TED Talk
I’ve been through something like 15 rounds of edits, I’ve practiced on stage, I’ve practiced to friends and my girlfriend. You get one shot at this, so make sure you don’t procrastinate or do the first talk that comes to you… work on it like it’s your life’s speech because it probably is.
Drop me a line and let me know how it’s going. I’m happy to help.