[Podcast] Author and Book Coach Stacy Ennis on Landing a TEDx Talk

5 promoting your writing podcast post Nov 24, 2023
systems for book writing and landing a ted talk

Landing a TEDx talk is one of the best speaking opportunities for thought leaders.

From the TEDx stage, speakers can inspire and influence a broader audience, while networking and connecting with those outside their immediate reach. It can be a boon for an author’s marketing.

While TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently from TED Conferences, TEDx remains a prestigious speaking opportunity. And it’s not easy-peasy to land a spot.

Author and book coach Stacy Ennis has spoken at countless conferences, served as keynote speaker, and also delivered a TEDx talk in 2017. But, when Stacy first applied to speak on the TEDx stage, she received a big fat (and gut-punching) “no.”


She would say because her topic was self-serving. It wasn’t about serving others.

The key to landing a TEDx talk: choosing a topic that serves a community.

How to Choose the Right Topic

Let’s clear the air: A TEDx talk isn’t about you. It’s neither about your business nor your personal goals.

It’s about others.

You may be a captivating speaker (and TEDx has plenty of those!). But if your idea isn’t one others care about, your super-magnetism is just for show.

Your topic must engage and resonate with the audience. A TEDx talk is about serving the audience.

Stacy encourages thought leaders to view the TEDx stage as an opportunity to market yourself. You’re on stage to entertain the audience and serve them. If they resonate with your talk, they’ll be more interested in your business. Set aside ego and self-promotion tactics.

What Topics Should You Consider?

Stacy suggests that a TEDx topic should address a significant issue, provide innovative solutions, or offer unique perspectives on a subject of universal interest.

To get started, Stacy recommends asking yourself, What do I care about deeply and want to share with other people?

Passion is key to delivering a talk that will inspire, motivate, and resonate with the audience. Your enthusiasm for a topic will translate into a more engaging presentation, and it will make your talk more memorable and impactful.

For Stacy, she found the intersection between her passion—her struggle to teach her children how to be brave—and the audience’s general interest in how to raise confident children. She drew on social scientific research about courage and developed her own framework on bravery she uses to raise her own children. The point of her talk was to instruct parents.

Determine which topic of interest you feel the most passionate about, but make sure it’s a topic your audience will value.

How to Prepare for a TEDx Talk

Landing a TEDx talk is confidence-boosting and confidence-defying all at once.

When Stacy was accepted to speak at TEDxBoise, she doubted herself. She questioned whether her idea was worth sharing, and whether her idea would inspire others to take action.

To overcome her self-doubt (and settle her panic), Stacy prepared, prepared, and prepared some more. She recommends breaking the prep stage into three categories: research, appearance, and the speech.

1. Prepare and Get a Coach. Speaking on the TEDx stage is a big deal. Don’t flub it by not preparing enough.

This is patently obvious. But take the time to fine-tune your talk’s thesis, and gather supporting evidence and personal anecdotes. Be curious about your subject and dig into the topic. The more specific an idea, the better.

For those who are new to speaking—and even those who have spoken at conferences before—Stacy recommends working with a coach.

A speaking coach is well-versed in the specific requirements and storytelling expectations of a TEDx talk. They will provide objective feedback and tailored guidance.

2. Dress for Success. Preparing for a TEDx talk goes beyond research and topic prep. Your appearance on the TEDx stage matters.

It may be a cliché, but Stacy emphasizes dressing for success. When you get on stage, feeling confident translates to a confident delivery. It’s important to dress yourself in clothes that make you feel like you belong on stage.

TEDx provides wardrobe stylists for its speakers. But if you’re speaking at a non-related TED talk, consider investing in a session with a wardrobe stylist. They’ll help you find the right attire that gives you both confidence and authority.

3. Speech Formula. Whether you’re stuck in your speech, or don’t even know where to begin, Stacy encourages speakers to follow her speech formula.

  1. Start with a story in the middle of the action.

The first ten seconds of your talk are the most important. This is the time to engage the audience. Get them invested in your topic. Do NOT start by introducing yourself.

  1. Present your three points.

As you move between your main three points, remind the audience what they’ve learned. For instance, when you’re sharing point three, highlight its relevance to point two and point one.

It’s your job to connect the dots for the audience.

  1. Conclude with fresh insight.

Similar to the introduction, the conclusion must keep the audience’s attention and heighten their interest. It’s the last thing they’ll remember. So make a lasting impression.

Loop back to the beginning, connect the big idea of your talk to the first story, and provide the major takeaways. 

It’s a long journey to landing a TEDx talk. But, with a topic that resonates with audiences and a delivery that engages listeners, you can reach a broader audience, connect with people outside your niche, and expand your influence.



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