Op-Ed: What I Learned From Sharing My Story with TEDx

This past weekend I had the pleasure of speaking on the TEDx stage with some amazing thought leaders from around the Bay Area.

It was pretty awesome and I've appreciated, considered, weighed out the opportunities that could come from such a platform. I'm very grateful.

I wanted to write an article for the people who have TEDx on their bucket list on the things I've learned in the application process, preparing and “day of feelings” that can be helpful to future and potential TEDx speakers.

  1. YOU ARE MORE THAN READY! I’ve had a few people reach out to me and say, “Wow I want to do a TEDx some day, but I'm not ready.” To them, I reply: You are more than ready. I could’ve said the same thing, but I applied in addition to being nominated and chosen. If you have TEDx aspirations, then you're already a leader. Think BIG and stop selling yourself short.
  2. BEFORE APPLYING think about that one thought that is unique to you and your philosophy. TED wants ideas worth sharing, unique ideas that not too many people are talking about or they're afraid to say or share. Bring that unique though that you think people need to hear. Then craft a 12 to 15 minute speech about it. Share it with your most trusted friends and ask them if they think its unique and interesting enough to be on a TEDx stage. If you stay ready, you won't have to get ready every time you apply.
  3. OVER-PREPARE. Start your speech early (see tip No. 2) and practice, refine and practice some more. This is where I made a mistake. I waited until the last minute, assumed it was all in my head and freaked out the week before trying to scramble and create a 12-minute speech that I could memorize. Although every TEDx is different, we did not have a teleprompters or were we able to take notes on stage. It had to be memorized. So although it was a topic I speak about all the time, I was just not prepared to talk about it for 12 minutes straight.
  4. DON’T TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRANTED. This opportunity can open many doors for you, so handle it with care. Craft a kick-ass message, be well prepared and build your speaking skills so you have the confidence and presence on stage to kill it, think about what you'll wear on stage, your hair and makeup. Sounds a little vain but it makes a difference in the full package. It’s one thing to have a killer message, but if the messenger is a wet fish, you’ll lose the power of the message. So be well prepared and get the coaching you need in order to bring the house down.
  5. LASTLY, a few more tips. a.) Connect and Network with the other speakers. They are all awesome thought leaders you need in your circle. b.) Document the day to remember. Share it on social media platforms so others can engage and share your day. c.) Other things that may help you land a TEDx is a book, speaker one pager and speaker reel. All things showing you have authority and speaking experience.

In the end it was a great experience that all aspiring change makers should go after. It looks great on your resume and it has the potential to be shared on many TEDx platforms including the TED website that has millions of visitors daily.


Chandra Brooks is a wife, mother of four, author and social entrepreneur. In 2017 she launched The Socialpreneur, a purpose-driven business that coaches women to lead and change the world through their business, life and community. Opinions in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside. Send op-ed pitches to [email protected]

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