Being a TEDx Speaker: The Preparation, The Talk & The Results
One fine day as I was going through my emails, I saw an invitation to speak. I get a lot of invitations from time to time, and I decline a lot of invitations. But this was an invitation to speak at a TEDx event! I have seen a lot of TED and TEDx talks on YouTube and I was really excited.
I had tried to become a TEDx speaker a while back and later I learned that you cannot buy your way into such an event. You need to get an invitation it cannot happen by design. There is a bit of chance and luck involved in getting such an invitation.
I got this email towards the end of November 2017.
My 5 years blogging journey had helped me get a TEDx invitation. The person who made the decision to invite me as one of the speakers has been a reader of my blog for a few years and he thought I would be a good choice for a speaker.
The excitement of having got a TEDx invitation lasted for a week or two. Then the panic set in. I didn’t know what to talk about. TEDx talks have to be from personal experience, should appeal to a large audience and should be short and crisp.
Most of my talks have been around digital marketing topics and I don’t prepare a speech for such talks. And my talks go for 30 to 60 minutes and sometimes even more than that. The talk usually flows very easily.
Choosing a topic for the TEDx talk itself was a huge challenge let alone prepare for it. First, I wanted to talk about how to achieve your dreams and goals. I started preparing for it and then had a call with the TEDx organizing team. They wanted me to talk from personal experience and I started collecting data points to talk about. Then I ditched the whole topic because I felt that I am not experienced enough to talk on this topic.
I have hardly achieved my life goals and there is a long way to go. Too many TEDx talks have been around the topic of goals and achieving dreams. There are far more eligible speakers on this topic and I would get faded away in the clutter.
The theme of this whole TEDx event was ‘Be’ and it is a very broad topic. It is about Being anything that you want in life.
My second iteration on trying to choose a topic also failed. I thought of talking about how can be Be the society, country and the human race that we want to Be and how can we go about the Change. I prepared on this for a few days, but then I had to ditch the topic because everything was my opinion. Such talks have to be from Experience and I need to show an example, not give my opinion.
Opinions are everywhere and there is too much of them. Anyone can give advice on how things should be and how people should behave. But if you are not practicing what you are preaching, you are going to spread information that people don’t need.
People don’t need information, they need inspiration. You need to inspire people to trigger action – through your own life example. People already have the potential energy, you need to convert them into kinetic energy, not give them more potential energy.
I had one more chance to come up with the right topic. Time was running out and the TEDx team wanted me to send the draft on what I am going to talk about. I kept thinking: what can I talk about that is from personal experience, something that is worth talking about and that appeals to a mass audience.
I was going through the website of TEDxGLIMChennai and then I saw my name as one of the speakers. Below my name, they had written: Digital Marketing Blogger. Whoa! It took me this long to figure out that I should be talking about blogging!
I am a blogger, and I can talk about Being a blogger. Blogging is the single biggest thing that happened in my life and my career paths changed because I started blogging. Not once, but twice.
The first stint was a motorcycle blog, which grew to more than 1 Million page views a month. And then, this blog, started in 2013, also changed my career path and let this this point today where I run a company that trains people on digital marketing, provides digital marketing services and conducts events.
The very TEDx invitation happened because of blogging and the invitation email says that he is a huge fan of my… blog! Apart from being a blogger, I am also teaching blogging to others and I have enrolled 2,500+ students for my 100-day blogging course. I am also planning to launch a blog on blogging at LearnBlogging.com
It looks very obvious now that my TEDx talk should be about blogging, but before realizing that, it was pretty difficult to finalize on this topic.
The team wanted me to create a draft of my talk and send it to them. I gave a few tries but I couldn’t write down what I would be talking about. So, I made a video with slides and sent it to them. They were happy with the content and the talk finally happened on Feb 4th 2018.
The video was published on the TEDx talks YouTube channel on Feb 16th.
The video has already got 58,000+ views and I am looking forward to getting at least a million views with this video in the long term. My profile just got an upgrade and now I can call myself as a TEDx speaker.
Now that my first TEDx talk is done, I will be looking forward to my next TEDx talk in the near future. May be I will talk about achieving goals, or about how to change the world – hopefully from personal experience.
Overall it was a great experience and a huge thanks to the TEDx team for making this happen.
This talk has improved my confidence in public speaking and I have taken away a lot of ideas on how speaking events should be executed. I will be using some of my learnings in my HighTraffic Summits too!
Any questions? Leave a comment below!