"Why you should give a TEDx talk" by Kristen Pressner

Have you ever thought of giving a TEDx talk?

Some might have, but I suspect most of us haven’t. We think… “That’s something ‘other people’ do. I could never do that.” I know I was thinking:  “I am not even sure what I’d talk about”…and also… “That seems like a lot of work, not sure I have time for that!”

After having given a TEDx talk, I wanted to share a few things that surprised me, from ‘behind the curtain of the red circle”

It was early May and I was having dinner with a colleague that I hadn’t seen in a long time. We were catching up: how much the kids have grown. What’s changed at work. What exciting things we both had ‘on’. The conversation turned to the fact that later in the month, I’d be giving a TEDx talk.

I’ll never forget the words that I’d used: “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

The strength of the words struck me. Come on! I’ve moved internationally with 4 children ranging in age from 1 to 7. I’d given birth to said children. I’ve rehabilitated after breaking my leg in 8 places. Maybe I haven’t climbed Kilimanjaro, but I’ve done plenty of hard things.

So why did I choose the words “hardest thing I’ve ever done”? 

TED and TEDx are about ideas worth spreading. Each TEDx talk is highly curated (definition: to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation, as music or website content) in order to create an event that goes well together, meets TEDx license standards and presents each idea being shared in a light where it is likely to be, first: heard and second: shared.  

That meant:

  • investing a lot of hours in writing, honing, revising and practicing
  • being challenged to articulate it in just 8 minutes
  • accepting that I had to memorize the talk (harder than it sounds for those of us fond of ‘winging it’, but this funny article explains it well)

So why did I still do it? And why should those words—‘the hardest thing I’ve ever done” --not scare you off from considering to give a TEDx talk yourself?

First: Everyone has an idea worth sharing. Some think that only authors, or experts, or researchers had ideas worth sharing, but I firmly believe the following: Everyone has an idea worth sharing. If you don’t share yours, you’re holding something back from the world. Something that it’s owed.  So give some thought to what idea you have inside that deserves to be shared.

Second: TEDx provides an incomparable platform from which to share your idea. The YouTube channel where the talks are shared has over 5 million subscribers. And, I’ve found that people (even your haters) are generally curious enough when they hear you’ve done a TEDx talk, to watch it. Take advantage and share something! :)

Third: Community. I wasn’t looking for community. But I found one anyway through TEDxBasel. It was a VERY strange group of people to bring together. Often, TEDx was the only thing we had in common. I now count an accomplished musician, a world-famous architect, a virtual reality guru, a stand-up comedian, a documentary maker and many others among my friends. As I heard them formulate and rehearse their talks, I became passionate about topics I’d never before thought about. And now, we’ve ‘walked through the fire together’ which means we have a bond that can’t be described to others. Kind of like being on a reality TV show!

For the women: And, if you happen to be a woman, there’s one more thing I’d ask you to consider:

  • According to June Cohen of TED, only about 20% of the TEDx talks short-listed for consideration for the TED.com website are by women. 
  • She says women speakers are:
    • harder to find
    • more likely to say no and
    • more likely to cancel
  • That means that women’s voices and women’s ideas are under-represented from TED and TEDx stages, and thus, from the world.
  • Let’s see what we can do about this.

It’s worth the 6 minutes to check out her insights: 

In summary, giving a TEDx talk is indeed really, really hard work, but in the end, you get so much more than a talk. If you want to learn more, go to http://www.tedxbasel.com/.

And if you want to learn more about the idea Kristen shared, check out her talk here: