Are you ready for TEDx? The 3 stages.

About 40% of people who book a call with me aren’t ready to become TEDx speakers yet.

At the same time, there are plenty of people who have false assumptions about their readiness, like my client Connie, who thought TEDx would be something a future, better version of herself would be able to do. She was partially right (but the timeline was weeks, not years).

Now, she has more time available to do a second TEDx talk, take advantage the first, and so on.

I’m hoping this post will let some of you know that you’re farther along than you think (while at the same time, making it clear who I can help, and who I can’t).

Stage 0: Decide what you love

You haven’t yet told anyone “this is what I do”.

This stage is characterized by a lot of consumption (eg: experiencing things, reading books or blog posts about various topics etc).

Most high school and early-year university students are here. Or, if you’ve been in an industry for awhile but you absolutely hate it (or, out of the workforce for a bit) and have decided to change trajectories entirely, you’re probably at Stage 0.

Stage 1: You’re public about your mission/field/passion

You have been running your business (or you’ve been working in your industry) long enough to know that you will still like it in a few years. This could be a business that fires you up, your job, a non-profit initiative you’re excited about, or a passion project of yours that you’re excited enough to tell people about.

You either have a website/social media page about it, a book, or it’s related to you your job/industry. You’ve invested in it both financially and with effort. This is part of your “identity”.

For example, my client Connie just did a talk at TEDxDayton about why there’s no such thing as a “math person”. She doesn’t have “math person” on her social media, but she used to teach math (ie: people knew she used to be a math teacher).

Common issues preventing people from getting to this stage:
“I figured TEDx would be a good way to launch my thing”, which often results because…

  • You don’t care enough about the mission/passion to invest in it (eg: if you’re “thinking of starting a website” or “really should do Facebook” that tells me you’re not excited enough about this to overcome the technical hurdles). Spending more on your monthly cell phone bill than your “mission” is a sure sign you haven’t got to Stage 1 yet.
  • You think TEDx could be the magical marketing silver bullet that could make your thing successful overnight with no effort before it exists (hint: don’t wait for a TEDx talk as “permission” to start, you need to get the ball rolling yourself).

Stage 2: You know your mission/business/field AND you’re good at it

Your coaching clients are happy with you, people refer you as a speaker, people liked your book, people beyond your friends are engaging with you on social media etc.

This may not be something that makes money, but you’re getting “results”, people (beyond your friends) are recommending you to others etc.

The difference between Stage 1 and 2 is typically experience combined with curiosity (ie: I could say I want to create world peace, but that doesn’t mean I can actually do it).

Common issues preventing people from getting to this stage:

  • “I want to share my story”. If you JUST want get something off your chest, hire a therapist. If you want to serve the audience, get more specific about what you want to help them with (ie: you want to help people feel motivated, raise money for your education non-profit, help people lose weight etc….).
  • Your thing is failing and you think that a TEDx talk can rescue it. The reality is, TEDx is an amplifier…if you can’t get results with what you’re sharing, putting it on a different stage isn’t likely to fix these issues.
  • Sharing other people’s stuff but not creating your own (eg: if all you’ve done is share other people’s blog posts, memes, or quotes about something you care about, then these people should be TEDx speakers, not you).

Stage 3: You have the ingredients to shift beliefs

If one or more of these apply to you, you’re at stage 3:

  1. You’ve written things or spoken and got feedback that’s beyond “I liked this!”, but more-so talks about how you changed their mind about the world. People say “oh, I never thought about it this way!”, “that’s really surprising” or “I never knew that” in comments online or in person.
  2. Your thing is getting results AND there are some people who think you’re wrong or your message sounds a bit counter-intuitive(at least at first).
  3. Almost all coaches or self-development/business authors who know they are at stage 2 are actually at stage 3 because to be a good coach or self-development author you have to shift beliefs (even though it may not be clear what the most scalable/potent belief shift is). This doesn’t apply if you’re a coach at stage 1 (ie: you are struggling to get clients or your clients aren’t getting results)
  4. Anyone who gets paid well to speak
  5. Almost all PhDs and most master’s students – the sheer volume of research done at this level is bound to have some great nuggets
  6. A TEDx organizer has invited you to speak at their event (about 1/3 of my clients have already been invited, they’re just looking for help crafting the best message possible).

At this stage, the best insights aren’t necessarily in one single message/blog post etc. They could be spread out amongst many blog posts, books, talks, coaching insights etc. But, but they’re certainly there.

A challenge for those in Stage 3 is too many insights. Not “do you have a good message inside you”, but what is the BEST message? The application process is competitive (80%+ of the other applicants are at Stage 3 also), and on YouTube your TEDx video will compete for attention. So, it’s still very possible to get turned down while at Stage 3 due to competition alone.

If you’re at Stage 3 (but ONLY if you’re here), the only thing in your way of becoming a TEDx speaker is crafting your best pitch and message, which my clients do in a matter of weeks. Click here to book a call:

If you’re not sure, feel free to email me back or book a call and I can help you figure out where you’re at (word of caution — about 30% of the people who book a call with me are at stage 1 or 2, and I give them homework first before we can work on their TEDx talk).

  • Almost all motivational speakers — if you can replace what you do by someone taking a few shots of espresso and watching Rocky, you’re on Stage 2 (or 1). This doesn’t mean great TEDx talks can’t be “motivating”, but they’re often motivating/inspiring as a result of people realizing new things are possible that they never thought, not because of mere rah-rah encouragement. Exception for those motivational speakers who get paid significantly, because this is a signal that you provide value far beyond “Rocky and espresso”.
  • Selling other people’s stuff/method (ie: being certified in someone else’s coaching methodology, selling essential oils etc). If all you can do is talk about how amazing someone ELSE’s thing is, then they have the insights to shift beliefs (they should do the TEDx talk), not you. You’re on Stage 2.

You could be a multi-millionaire while in Stage 2. You could also never make a dime but be in Stage 3. You may also have certain stages of your business/life that are in each stage

If you’re at Stage 3 (but ONLY if you’re here), the only thing in your way of becoming a TEDx speaker is crafting your best pitch and message, which my clients do in a matter of weeks. Click here to book a call:

Any questions about what stage you’re on (or recommended books/experts etc depending on what you do and your stage)? Leave a comment and let me know.

Ryan Hildebrandt
Ryan Hildebrandt
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