Selecting, inviting and preparing speakers is one of your most important duties as a TEDx organizer. Having live speakers at your TEDx event is not required, but they add powerful, unforgettable, unique moments to your event -- perhaps tying the theme of your event to local issues or current events.
How to identify great speakers
To build a powerful speaker program, seek out extraordinary voices in your local community who have a unique story or an unusual perspective -- and who can convey it in a dynamic way.
- Local voices that few have heard before
- People who can present their field in a new light
- Perspectives that the global TED community may not have access to
- Diverse demographics, ethnicities, backgrounds, subject matter
Preparing your speakers
TED's format may be different than what many speakers are accustomed to. (Long talks, podiums and readings are discouraged by TED.) To get the best out of your speakers, prepare them for what to expect.
- Send them the official TEDx Speaker Guide.
- Talk to every speaker (by phone or in person) weeks, if not months, before the event. Make sure they understand the format, and know who their audience is.
- From the earliest conversation, reinforce key points: Their talk should be directed at a smart general audience. (Avoid industry jargon.) It should focus on one unique aspect of their story. (Don't try to cover too much.) It should not be a sales pitch. (Absolutely no corporate plugs.)
- Have your speakers send you their presentation two weeks before the event so you can review it and make suggestions.
- Regroup with all of your speakers on the day of the event to refresh them. If possible, offer them rehearsal time before the actual event begins.
- Repeatedly reinforce the fact that they will be held to a strict time limit (talks may never be longer than 18 minutes); encourage rehearsal.
- Make sure they sign the speaker waiver. Each speaker must affirm that they are the sole author of their presentation, that they own all rights to the content in their presentation, that they will inform you about any third-party material in their presentation, and that use of their presentation won't violate the rights of any third party.
What speakers need to know:
- At the event: They will sit in the audience and enter the stage from the audience. They are encouraged to stay for the whole event, and to mingle during breaks.
- During the talk: The talk must not go over the allotted time (never longer than 18 minutes). Let them know how you'll cue them when their time has run out.
- After the talk: They are expected to remain at the event throughout the day; at minimum, they're expected to stay through the conversation break following their talk, so attendees can approach them and ask questions.
Insist on accurate content
TED and TEDx showcase “ideas worth spreading.” Curation is at the heart of everything we do--and sometimes that means determining that an idea won’t hit the mark.
Speakers must tell a story or argue for an idea. They may not use the TED stage to sell products, promote themselves or businesses. Every talk's content must be original and give credit where appropriate. Speakers cannot plagiarize or impersonate other persons, living or dead.
Speakers must be able to confirm the claims presented in every talk -- TED and TEDx are exceptional stages for showcasing advances in science, and we can only stay that way if the claims presented in our talks can stand up to scrutiny from the scientific community.
TED is also not the right platform for talks with an inflammatory political or religious agenda, nor polarizing “us vs them” language. If Talks fail to meet the standards above, TED reserves the right to place an overlay on the video in YouTube alerting viewers that the content is outside TED’s standards or remove the video altogether.
For a more detailed description of our content guidelines, along with some tips on how to identify suspect science, download the TEDx content guidelines »