If “How to become a TEDx speaker” is on your mind, you probably want to know how to land a TEDx talk. Your concern is how to pass all the obstacles TEDx speakers go through and have your talk idea accepted by a TEDx curation team. Let me share how I landed TEDx Marietta Square.
How to become a speaker at TEDx was something I personally researched before taking action. In January 2020, I landed a TED talk! My ten tips for how to become a TEDx speaker are exactly the steps I followed to get my TED talk idea chosen by an idea curation team.
I was selected to be a TEDx speaker on January 11th, 2020 at a live TEDx speaker audition by the idea curation team of TEDx Marietta Square. It took less than 90 minutes for my dream to come true. There were nine speakers, and only one was chosen on the spot – me.
The next day, I found out that the TEDx community where I had applied on November 12th, 2019 did not choose me as their speaker.
So, let me clarify and summarize everything for you.
On January 12th, I was rejected as a TEDx speaker at TEDx Dupree Park, exactly three months after I submitted my application there.
On January 11th, the day before that heartbreaking news, I was accepted as a TEDx speaker for TEDx Marietta Square, less than 90 minutes after I presented my application at a live, in-person audition.
So, I have an unconventional and unique perspective to share with you. If you want to hear my story and see my ten tips for how to become a speaker at TEDx, keep on reading!
How I Became a TEDx Speaker 2020
It was a rainy morning on Saturday, January 11th, 2020. I woke up at 3:30 am to work out, spend time with God, make my bed, do a hair mask, do a manicure, have some tea, and record a new podcast episode for my Christian podcast The Anna Szabo Show.
RELATED: My Christian Podcast for Women
At 9 am, my neighbor Mary knocked on the door, and we were on our way to the live TEDx audition for TEDx Marietta Square, which was held at the Sewell Mill Library and Cultural Center.
At the time, I was encouraged by the fact that I had already applied for TEDx Dupree Park, which I was confident I’d land for sure because they invited me to submit two of my ideas.
So, I was encouraged by the fact that I had already tried, and I was clueless that I did not succeed, which was a blessing, of course, not to know it, otherwise, I probably would not have gone to the audion in Marietta.
I was freaking out big time that morning but managed to persuade myself that I was a winner for just going there. It took a lot to conquer my fear with faith. And since it was Saturday, that morning I worked on my podcast called “What Is Faith?” where I shared how I felt about the audition. My Christian podcast for women comes out on Saturdays, so subscribe here.
Here’s that podcast episode for you in case you’re curious how I really felt and what I did to utilize my faith to overcome my fear and actually go to the audition and compete with a room full of excellent speakers.
How to become a TEDx speaker is a topic I have been learning about for two years, ever since God had called me to share what He had done in my life.
But I was scared.
You see, I have insecurities, anxieties, and self-doubt.
So, going to a live TEDx audition was a huge challenge, but thank God for faith, which is way more powerful than my fear.
Interestingly enough, I had never even heard of live TEDx auditions but on Friday, January 10th, my friend Jessica forwarded me an Instagram post from TEDx Marietta Square with the announcement of the in-person audition the next day, where you had to present your talk idea.
I Googled the details and found out that the RSVP for the live audition was about to close, so I hurried and RSVPed. After that, I texted my friend Rebecca Boscovic to sign up as well, which she did.
On the event announcement, it stated: “You will have EXACTLY 60 seconds to present your talk idea.” Wow! One minute… Ok… Where do I start?
I looked up how many words I can fit into 60 seconds.
Exactly 133 words. So, I went ahead and wrote my talk idea presentation.
My Neighborhood - Our World TEDx Audition 1 Min Speech
On November 19th, 2019, I was driving in my neighborhood when I noticed a purple-haired African American teen sitting on the side of the road, on the ground, at below 52F.
I pulled over and walked up to her.
She was 19, 28 weeks pregnant, homeless, and a victim of domestic violence.
Within three hours, I found her a home.
I bought her clothes and shoes and got her medical attention.
The story got on the news and went viral globally.
People asked me why I helped.
My answer is simple: when I was a homeless victim of domestic violence in 2009, someone helped me.
I challenge you today: give away all the kindness you ever received in life, give it to people to make your neighborhood and our world a better place.
Here are some blogs you may want to read that expand on the story I was getting ready to present:
I memorized my talk idea presentation and filmed it in my kitchen to see myself delivering it. I stumbled, yes, but there was a much bigger problem with my speech.
What was the problem? I cried when I was delivering my idea.
It was disappointing. I thought if I cried, I would be dismissed as incompetent and too sensitive.
So, I recorded my talk idea presentation on a voice recorder and went on to memorize and recite it.
I got it! Sixty seconds – no tears.
On Sunday, we got to the audition early to calm down my anxiety and to also meet other speakers. Here are some awesome people who were either speaking or judging that morning at TEDx Marietta Square. The last picture is with the leadership team: the organizer and the judges. It was taken at the end after they announced the speaker whom they chose on the spot.
We were waiting outside the room and networking when Dr. Marilyn E Porter came out and greeted us. That moment began the divine intervention with my prepared speech.
Let me go slowly here because I want you to grasp how God orchestrated this whole thing so perfectly, I’m speechless.
Well, not really speechless – I am trying to explain in words but if I were to just say one thing, it would be this: God led me there, and each person on the committee was anointed by God.
That’s pretty much the bottom line.
But yes, the details, of course. So… Where were we?
Oh, yes, Dr. Marilyn Porter.
She was dressed in a shirt that said “UNCONVENTIONAL” and she was so warm, pleasant, kind, and welcoming, that I was calming down as she spoke. And then, she said something no one expected: “I know I said you’ll have 60 seconds but I wanted to bless you, so you have five minutes to present your idea to us.”
My mind began racing: “Should I stick with the one-minute script or should I go for five but I know I’d start crying… “
In a few moments, we were invited into the conference room.
It was well-lit and welcoming. By the way, they also had some drinks and snacks for us, which was impressive. The judges were upfront with their backs toward us, which was great because we couldn’t see anyone’s facial reactions to others’ speeches.
I was speaker #2 based on the order in which we all walked into the room. Everything was simple. I felt comfortable at that point but undecided on what to do.
That’s where I’m about to start crying writing this…
Oh Lord, have mercy! Let me just finish this blog post without drowning my MacBook Pro in my tears…
Anyway, there was a man on a jury. His name was Dr. Walter Sims. When everyone got seated, Dr. Porter said: “Dr. Sims, why don’t you open us up in prayer?”
Excuse me? Can someone pinch me? What did she just say? A prayer?
I was like: wait, rewind this, what?
You see, I read up on TEDx and learned from various sources that TEDx wants your talks to not be religious and actually avoid sensitive topics.
And here we are… there’s a prayer going on right in front of me…
And Dr. Sims was praying to Jesus. Ok… Wow!
I kept thinking: “What should I do with my speech?”
Well… that’s where the jury of amazing women stepped in and asked all of us to be ourselves, natural, real, vulnerable, and just share from the heart.
I gathered up my courage and asked: “What if someone starts crying while sharing their TEDx talk idea?” I was told it would be perfect!
My decision was obvious: go for the five minutes, cry all you want.
The first speaker was a rapper, and he introduced himself by what his mama calls him. He had done it several times while we were networking outside, and actually everyone else started sharing what their mamas call them. I said: “No one wants to know what my mama called me!”
But since that was how he also introduced himself to the judges, when I got up there, I said: “Good morning, family! My name is Anna Szabo, and I am a Christian minister, speaker, poet, artist, and podcast host. My ministry, Online Discipleship For Women, is committed to alleviating suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. And since everyone is sharing what their moms call them, here you go: my mom called me a miscarriage and said: “I hate you and I just want you dead!” Ok, now we can start my time.”
As I said that, I looked on their timer, they already had started my time and it was 1:14, so my introduction took 74 seconds…
Everyone laughed and they restarted my timer.
I started with the script I had prepared, then went into my story as a mail-ordered bride, my domestic violence experiences, and my life chapter of homelessness. Then, I finished with the end portion of my prepared script.
And I thanked everyone.
RELATED: My Domestic Violence Story
I did get very emotional: what I shared was so hard to share. There was no Kleenex there, so I suggest that if you ever get to go to a live TEDx audition, definitely bring some Kleenex with you.
As I walked to my seat, Dr. Sims extended his hand kindly. I gave him mine. He held my hand and thanked me for my presentation. I was so grateful he did that because, at that point, I felt totally naked and really overwhelmed.
When I sat down, a speaker behind me said my talk was powerful.
My friend Rebecca stood up and came to hug me, and I noticed that my entire body was shaking rapidly. Rebecca, thankfully, had some napkins from the bathroom, and I used those to wipe my tears.
Rebecca was the next speaker, and hearing her, I needed more napkins because it was so vulnerable and emotional.
I was thankful that we both signed up, came to audition, and were willing to be our real, vulnerable, naked selves. Real humans with lots of emotions. People with painful life experiences. Women who have been empowered and are committed to empowering other women. Daughters of God following Jesus’ calling. Humans who are conquering fears with faith.
RELATED: Empowered Women Empower Women
When all nine speakers finished, we were all thanked and released. We were told in the next two weeks, we’d each get an email with their decision on which speakers were chosen.
Most of us stayed in the room for a moment – to network and take pictures. But soon, everyone was out of the room, except the leadership team.
I was pouring myself a drink of apple juice when one of the judges came out and asked me to get back in, which I did.
She said they’d like to talk to me, after which they invited everyone else in the room again. They announced that they decided to choose one speaker on the spot.
When they said “Anna Szabo” I was weeping.
I then heard a bunch of congratulations, everyone excited, people calling my name – it was all surreal. It all felt like in a slow-motion movie moment where my mom is looking down on me saying “You will never amount to anything! Who do you think you are? You are the daughter of a janitor! Everyone hates you! There is nothing to love about you! There’s nothing interesting about you! If you think your ideas matter, you are delusional! You are worthless and a waste of my life! I wish I aborted you!” and all the good people are cheering for me at the same time in the background where their voice can hardly be heard, and I’m overwhelmed completely by all the voices of my mom in my head.
Can you relate? Let me know in the comments below.
As I’m writing this blog post, I’m crying.
Don’t worry about my laptop, I’m using Kleenex, so my MacBook Pro is safe. If you want to know how to become a speaker at TEDx, here’s my one thing: conquer your fear with faith.
And, of course, you must prepare for an audition.
Here are some things that I want you to repeat to yourself as you are preparing to become a TEDx speaker.
How To Become a Speaker at TEDx: an Unconventional Step-By-Step Guide
Nail One TEDx Talk Idea In Your Head
You have many great ideas. All of them matter. However, if you watch this video about TED, you’ll understand that you must choose just one idea. Get clear on what your idea is and ensure that it’s also clear to anyone listening.
Write Out Your TEDx Talk from That Idea
Write out your entire idea presentation talk by hand or electronically. Make sure you’re looking at your full idea verbalized the way you want, fitting into the timeframe provided by the organizers of the audition you’re attending.
Deliver Your TEDx Talk To a Video Camera
Set your phone somewhere to capture a video of you sharing your idea. Is it within the required time limit? Do you like your gestures, voice, intonation?
Watch Your TEDx Talk Idea On Video
Watch your video and re-record it until you’re pleased with the way you present. Practice until you like what you see on camera and can deliver your talk to your liking without stumbling.
Edit Your Presentation Until Your Idea Is Clear
Rewrite your whole speech if you don’t like how it comes across, if you feel something is unnatural, or if you realize you can’t speak at a pace of 133 words a minute (or whatever the required limit is). Make sure you’re comfortable with your idea presentation and it meets all the requirements of the audition.
Practice Your TEDx Talk Idea Presentation With Genuine Passion
Don’t be afraid of emotions. Be genuine when you deliver your idea. Practice with passion, don’t be robotic. I thought I needed to hold it together and I was wrong. Be passionate and real. Emotions are good.
Deliver Your TEDx Talk Idea From The Heart
Speak from the heart, not from your notes. Don’t try to remember everything you wrote – that was for you to get clear on your own idea.
Be Yourself When Delivering Your TEDx Talk Presentation
Be you. Don’t try to be anyone else. Your idea is unique. It matters because of how you feel about your idea. How do you feel about your idea? Show it.
Let Your Emotions Flow Naturally, Crying Is Ok
Cry all you want. That’s what I’ve learned from my experience with TEDx Marietta Square. You’re a human, not a robot. Your emotions are what helps people understand your idea and why it’s important. So, cry. It’s good.
Express gratitude. You got your audience’s attention. You impacted their minds and hearts. Thank them for listening to your idea and giving you space and time to share it with them. Now, you’ve done everything. Great job! It’s time to let God do His part. You just wait and see what happens.
SIGN UP FOR EMALS
Final words. You can’t miss out on an opportunity God has for you. What’s yours is not up for anyone else’s taking. On the other hand, let God close the doors that aren’t yours to walk into. Don’t worry if you don’t land this specific TEDx talk. Try again. Have faith and use it to conquer your fear.
Faith without works is dead.
How To Become a TEDx Speaker: 10 Tips
- Nail One TEDx Idea In Your Own Head First
- Write Out Your TEDx Presentation of That One Idea
- Deliver Your TEDx Presentation To a Video Camera
- Watch Your TEDx Idea On Video
- Edit Your Presentation Until Your TEDx Idea Is Clear
- Practice Your TEDx Presentation With Genuine Passion
- Deliver Your TEDx Idea Presentation From The Heart
- Be Yourself When Delivering Your TEDx Idea Presentation
- Let Your Emotions Flow Naturally, Crying Is Ok
- Thank The Audience for Allowing You To Share Your Heart
In this blog, I shared with you how I was both rejected and accepted to become a TEDx speaker in 2020. Of course, my experience is unique to me, just like anyone’s experience is unique to them. This information is for you to ponder. The truth is this: you gotta find your own path. Pray about it.
RELATED: How To Pray
If you, like me, hear many negative voices in your head, get my free ebook with 52 positive affirmations to confront and demolish that negativity about your identity. Find out 52 amazing things God says about you.
God is good. He has a plan. If God called you to TEDx, He will provide the ideas, the courage, and the right opportunity. Landing a TEDx talk is not an event but a journey. It’s an experience of learning how to trust God, take action in faith, and then let it go.
Just for learning purposes, I did ask TEDx Dupree Park curator Gina Carr why my idea was not chosen. Out of the two ideas I submitted, she told me that one was definitely exciting to her. As of today, I have not heard back from Gina. If she ever responds, I will update this blog to let you know so that we can learn together what works and what doesn’t.
I will say this: with my submission, I created a video, which I sent to TEDx Dupree Park via VidYard. It’s video software that shows you analytics when your video is clicked and watched. My video submission was clicked and watched zero times since I submitted it three months ago.
I don’t want to wrongly conclude that video submissions aren’t watched by TEDx curation teams, but my video wasn’t watched. From my experiences, I conclude that finding live TEDx auditions and sharing your ideas in-person will give you better success than sending video submissions for TEDx talks.
That being said, God closed one door and opened the other one. He did it for me with TEDx Marietta Square. He will do the same for you. Share your great ideas with many TEDx teams, and you’ll definitely increase your chances of landing a TEDx speaker opportunity just exactly where God wants you to speak.
I thank God for the TEDx Marietta Square leadership team. TEDx Marietta Square will take place at Sewell Mill Library and Cultural Center in April of 2020. Click here for details. Visit my TEDx speaker profile now.
If my story encouraged you, share it with someone who needs to be encouraged right now. Comment below with questions. God bless!
p.s: 1-27-2020 update
On January 27th, 2020 this Facebook Live Speaker Reveal by TEDx Marietta Square announced that not only was I selected as a TEDx speaker 2020 but also my dear friend Rebecca Boskovic.
She was the one I texted to prepare a talk overnight. She was there hugging and comforting me after I spoke at the live audition. She was the one who delivered the most vulnerable short talk I had ever heard.
I praise God that He presented this incredible opportunity to both of us at TEDx Marietta Square.
Anna Szabo is the founder of Online Discipleship For Women, a Christian ministry committed to alleviating suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. Anna teaches how to create a joyful life by embracing God’s word based on her own journey of faith and fortitude.
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