So you want be a TED Speaker?? – 7 Tips for Securing and Delivering a Successful TEDx Talk

TEDx talk Doncaster speaker women in law

What Successful Career Progression Looks Like

On Sunday 24th October 2021, at the TEDx Doncaster Positive Disruptor event, I took to the Cast Theatre stage and delivered my TEDx Talk “Can stepping off the career ladder enhance success at work?

In it, I look at how experiences on Jamaican Death Row influenced the entire course of my career and invite people to reassess their current definition of success within a work context.

Judging by the DMs that followed, perhaps due to both my background as a criminal Barrister and also the current work I do coaching female lawyers, the talk seems to have struck a chord with many, especially women, navigating their careers in the legal profession.

But equally, the message has wider applicability post-pandemic for working people, professionals of both genders.

Positive Feedback

 I’ve been inundated with positive engagement and feedback about the talk:

“What a brilliant Tedx Talk. It’s refreshing to hear a female voice talk about success which isn’t ‘behave like a man’, ‘work harder’ and ‘push more’. I feel like now I have children it’s my duty to…challenge those in chambers who…think success is how much you bill etc. Thank you for giving me a prod to keep doing that!”

“Really thought provoking, Nikki, thank you – it certainly resonates with me and my own legal career”

“Feeling so emotional watching your TedX … it reaffirms that I did the right thing leaving [my old law firm]”

“Truly inspiring and absolutely resonates! Very powerful talk!”

“Really enjoyed watching your talk. Very interesting and can be applied to any professional career, not just law. Thank you”

You can watch it for yourself here:

Where to Start

I’ve also had a lot of messages from people saying they want to do a TEDx and asking my advice about where/ how to start. Frankly at times, I found navigating the application process like trying to find a needle in a haystack, so thought it helpful to collate 7 top tips for securing and delivering a successful TED Talk….

1. Begin by getting curious about all things TED. If you haven’t already, sign up to the TED Website for weekly highlights. Watch as many as you can and begin to understand the premise upon which TED is based…that you have “an idea worth sharing.”

There are so many brilliant and varied talks on a whole host of topics. By watching them and understanding what makes a good talk, what makes them stand out, you will start to piece together your own version of what makes a brilliant TED, in terms of content, structure and delivery.

I’ve included here some of my favourites to start you off:

2. Identify Curators of TEDx events, current and past, and connect with them on social media. Follow their content with genuine interest. Trying to find local upcoming events can sometimes feel like looking for hen’s teeth, but you will soon find helpful people willing to connect you with others who are “in the know” about future events, even if they themselves aren’t hosting them any time soon.

3. Google your upcoming events, both local- and not so local – and identify where they are, what the theme is and start thinking how your idea worth spreading would fit in with that theme. Be prepared to tweak your idea so that it becomes more congruent with that specific theme.

4. Apply!!! It sounds obvious, but this was the best piece of advice I ever got. Don’t overthink it. If you want to do a TEDx, you won’t achieve it if you don’t apply, and even if you don’t get it first time, it’s all part of the process, right?! But equally, going back to point 3, you will have to be prepared to submit bespoke applications for each and every event you apply for, to demonstrate that your idea fits with the chosen theme.

5. Get Help. When it comes to the nitty gritty, don’t be afraid to enlist external support. As a coach, I strongly believe that everyone would benefit from a coach, but also how can you coach without a coach yourself?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to a coach then, whether that be for help:

  • with your 1 minute presentation for the video audition application stage;
  • to curate compelling content and a precise structure, whether at the application/ audition stage or for the actual performance itself;
  • honing your presentation skills to aid the delivery of an impactful TEDx.
  1. Remember the basic premise: it’s about an idea worth spreading, a performance, and effective storytelling often lies at its heart.
  2. Once successful, fully Immerse yourself in the experience. Actively engage with event curators to learn from their experience, utilise every opportunity to practise, (and practise again), listen to advice, use any free resources offered and take on feedback, albeit only where helpful to do so.

Each time I stepped out of my comfort zone during the process, I simply reminded myself to “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. I’d encourage you to do the same. Go for it and good luck!