TED Global Idea Search

TED is hosting two global idea searches in 2021 with a mission: to hear big, bold ideas from every corner of the world. A select group of people from each application pool will be invited to give TED Talks, either virtually or in person.

The first application pool closed at the end of January 2021. The next application pool will open in June 2021. Applicants from the January pool will be notified of next steps by the end of February.

How it works

When applications are open, anyone from anywhere in the world with an idea is invited to fill out an application and create a 2-minute video as a part of their submission. Finalists are invited to a virtual event where they talk more about their idea and participate in a Q&A with members of the TED community. From there, winners are invited to give a TED Talk, either virtually or in person.

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Tips for success before applying

Your "idea worth spreading"

We're looking for ideas worth spreading — that's our mission! So… What does that mean? We're looking for ideas that are new, unique, and can offer an insight or a new way of thinking to a very large audience.

A TED Talk usually has a topic and an idea.

A topic is the high level — the general direction you want to take the talk.
Topic example: We need to fix the opioid crisis

An idea is a specific angle that stems from the topic — a unique message, solution, or insight that only you can share.
Idea example: In the opioid crisis, here's what it takes to save a life

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More examples of topics and ideas:

Topic: Africa lacks access to basic energy sources
Idea: The energy Africa needs to develop — and fight climate change

Topic: Paleontology is important
Idea: Hunting for dinosaurs showed me our place in the universe

Topic: We need more organ donors
Idea: How to create a world where no one dies waiting for a transplant

Questions to ask yourself about your idea

To us, an idea worth spreading can mean several things. Before you submit your application, check your idea against this list — does it check a few of these boxes?

  • Does your idea worth spreading offer the audience a unique insight?
  • Will your audience learn something brand new? Something they’ve never heard before?
  • Will your audience learn about a new solution to a problem?
  • TED is not a platform for product pitches. Do you feel confident that your idea is not a product pitch?
  • Did you check our massive library? Are you sure we don’t already have a talk about your idea?

What to avoid

Only in rare circumstances do we invite people to speak about a very personal experience or a personal philosophy. Here are some examples of ideas that we would likely not consider:

  • How I learned to speak my truth and be my authentic self.
  • How to conquer your fears and achieve your dreams.
  • Find your passion through unleashing your creativity.
  • I had a rare experience and it taught me to face my fear.
  • Find happiness using the L.U.V. method: Light, Universe, Vulnerability.
  • I traveled to India and it changed my perspective on the stock market, even though I’m not a banker.