How I Booked My TEDx talk

Angela Duckworth on Grit

Watch my TEDx talk "Slavery Still Exists. Here's How to End It"

If you're a fan of TED talks, then you've certainly heard Angela Duckworth's talk on Grit. In it, she talks about how the one quality that most directly correlates with success is Grit. That quality that could be described as courage, determination, intestinal fortitude or stick-to-it-iveness. Or as it's known in my house, "Go back and try the problem yourself, before asking me for the answer."

After listening to her talk, it inspired me to not only give my own TEDx talk, but also do whatever it took to get it booked. And if there was one word that describes how I booked my TEDx talk, it would be GRIT. But let me break down the process for you:

Discover your Idea Worth Spreading.

I work for International Justice Mission, the largest anti-slavery organziation in the world. And you don't get to be best in class without doing something that works. And so, my idea worth spreading is not really my idea, at all. It's the model of transformation that IJM has been using throughout the world to put an end to slavery.

Find the TEDx events in your area.

From the TED.com website, you can find out where all the TEDx events are being held around the nation. So, I basically chose every TEDx event in NJ or VA. That produced about 20-25 events. But upon closer inspection, many of them don't apply to me. TEDxWomen or TEDxYouth events were removed and that left me with about 15 events that were good potential possibilities.

Contact the event organizers.

If you click on the name of the event, you are taken to their specific website for their event. Many of these events have speakers booked many, many months in advance, so don't choose an event that is just a few weeks away. On the bottom of the page, you can see the name of the event organizer. But, actually finding their contact information proved more difficult than it seemed it should be. There was no discernible email or contact information from the website. So I had to consider other options. Since you had the organizer's name and photo, I launched into doing some internet research. I considered contacting them through Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Facebook seemed too personal, Twitter seemed too public. LinkedIn seemed to be the best avenue or contact. So, I found the event organizers for the 15 events on LinkedIn and messaged all of them that I could find. Out of the 15 messages that I sent, 3 were returned. Of the 3 messages returned, 1 of them told me that it was a private TEDx event and I was not eligible as a speaker. The other 2 asked me to...

Fill out a speaker application.

I went to the link to fill out the speaker request form on their website (it wasn't easily accessible from the main website, for whatever reason). I'm not sure why they make it so difficult to make contact. Perhaps it's an oversight... or perhaps it's their brilliant scheme: if you're not smart enough to find a way to conatct me, then you're not smart enough to be a TEDx speaker. I would recommend taking your time filling out the application and making sure that your answers to the questions are concise and compelling. Concise because you want to intruige them to pursue a further conversation. Compelling because you want to appeal to their audience. Out of the 2 applications I filled out, I got 1 response.

Pitch your talk on the phone.

I had a phone call interview with the event organizer to go throught the topic of my talk. Once you have them on the phone, you are essentially picthing yourself as much as your idea. They are going to make sure that you are you a good communicator and have a likeable personality. So, I did my best impression of a likeable person and... booked it.

Basically, it went from 1000s of TEDx events, to 25 regional events, to 15 possibilities, to 3 responses, to 2 applications, to 1 phone call.

So, you can see how it took a modicum of grit to get it done. So, thank you, Angela Duckworth.