How to Give a TED Talk

April 6, 2023

6 min read

Do you have an idea worth sharing? Are you enthralled by videos of excellent public speaking on the TED stage? Have you ever wondered how to give your own TED or TEDx Talk?

Whether you’re a teenager or a seasoned professional, TED and TEDx Talks can give you an opportunity to share your message with the world and grow as a public speaker. This article goes through the ins and outs of speaking at a TED conference—from how to apply to give a TED Talk to killer preparation strategies.

Finding a TED Talk Event Near You

To give a TED Talk, you first need to find an event that fits your goals. TED hosts a myriad of public speaking events designed to bring people together around their mission of sharing “ideas worth spreading”. In addition to their main annual five-day conference, TED puts on a range of more focused conferences yearly. These include TED Women, platforming women’s voices, and TED Tech, which kicks off in London this year. Another TED initiative that provides a wide range of speaking opportunities is the TEDx program.

Map showing TEDx Talk public speaking events across the world, which provide accessible opportunities to become a good speaker.

TEDx events are independently organized TED-style speaking events that have become ubiquitous as a way to share ideas on a local scale. These events take place everyday across the globe. What’s more, anyone can organize a TEDx event in their community, college campus, or high school. Because of this, TEDx is a great option for high school and college students taking the first steps on their public speaking journeys. If you can’t find an opportunity to give a TEDx Talk near you, simply create your own!

Applying to Give a TED Talk

The first step to getting on a TED stage is to be nominated. Anyone can nominate you using TED’s speaker nomination form (you’re also allowed to nominate yourself!). When applying to speak at a TED conference using this form, attaching links to your previous speeches and presentations will boost your application.

However, if you’re just starting out as a public speaker, you may not have a robust portfolio to submit with your nomination. Not to worry—local TEDx events are a great way for novice presenters to get speaking experience under their belts before giving a TED Talk. After dazzling your TEDx audience, you’ll be well on your way to taking the stage at a larger conference.

Examples of Famous TED Talks

TED Talks span a huge array of topics in natural science, the arts, history, technology, current events… the list goes on. No matter what your area of expertise is, there’s a place for you at TED. Here are some recent hit TED Talks.

Pat Mitchell examines what it means to be a powerful woman in the 21st century. How can we use our collective power to create positive change?

Lizzo, well-known for her pop hits “About Damn Time” and “Good as Hell”, shares how she incorporates twerking into her art to advocate for fat, black women and discusses its roots in black culture.

Marc Bamuthi Joseph explores how the exhilaration of the game of soccer can provide a sense of liberation and empowerment to those facing oppression.

Drawing on his own experience of moving across the world to pursue his dream and the inspiring stories of other African creatives, Christian Benimana explores how empowering the next generation with strong design confidence can lead to a new era of sustainable building and construction.

Gregory Petsko discusses a topic that is currently worrying many: the potential for an epidemic of neurological diseases, as well as ways we can protect ourselves against these diseases on a societal and individual level.

TED events provide a unique opportunity to share your take on practically any topic. While you prepare to give a TED or TEDx Talk, don’t be afraid to develop a speech on what excites you most—no matter now niche.

Get Inspired

The best writers read… and the best speakers listen. TED has thousands of speeches freely available online. Use these resources to your advantage and discover what you want to emulate when presenting. AI-powered speech analytics tools like Yoodli provide free and instantaneous text analysis of any TED Talk or speech. This is a great way to identify what patterns make a presenter impressive. Upload your favorite TED Talk and instantly receive data on the presenter’s top keywords, speech rate, delivery, and more.

Speech rate analytics provided by AI-powered public speaking coach Yoodli for famous TED Talk "The Danger of a Single Story" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Here’s a secret: there is no magic formula for becoming a good speaker. Every impactful orator has a unique voice and speech style. Yoodli can help you find good speakers that reflect your individual voice. When you upload a file, Yoodli compares it against hundreds of famous speakers and returns your closest celebrity match. You might find a celebrity speech twin where you least expect it!

Yoodli's public speaking celebrity match feature tells you that your closest match is The Rock.

Practice Makes Perfect Public Speaking

Benjamin Franklin once said that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” We couldn’t agree more. When preparing to give a TED Talk, practice is key. TED has strict time limits for their speaking slots, so it’s essential that your presentation runs like a well-oiled machine. The first component of preparing to give a TED Talk is to rehearse consistently. Ensure you stay on time by practicing, practicing again, and then practicing some more.

The second component of preparing to give a TED Talk is even more crucial: feedback. Trusted friends and colleagues are a great resource for feedback on your speech delivery and comprehensibility. They can provide valuable input on your overall strength as a presenter. However, your peers won’t give you quantitative evaluations of your speech rate, filler word frequency, or eye contact. An AI-powered speaking coach can provide all this and more, 100% judgement-free.

Share your speech on Yoodli with colleagues to prepare to give a TED Talk or TEDx Talk.

Yoodli makes it easy to share your presentation with friends and colleagues. You can get feedback from both real people and our AI speech coach on one integrated platform. Plus, you can practice giving your TED Talk as much as you like, at any time of day, from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Prepare Visuals

Did you know that humans are significantly more likely to believe a statement when it’s paired with a photograph? Visuals are a powerful tool for captivating and convincing your audience when giving a TED Talk. Try to avoid large blocks of text on your slides and stick to high contrast visuals.

Speak With Confidence

If you prepare well, it will be easy to present with confidence when you give your TED Talk. An important part of speaking with confidence is maintaining eye contact with your audience. Often, talks at TED or TEDx events are recorded and published online. This means TED Talk presenters must practice making eye contact with not only the audience members, but also cameras. Yoodli’s AI speech coach helps you track eye contact in real time and practice presenting directly to a camera.

Eye contact analytics provided by AI-powered public speaking coach Yoodli for the viral TED Talk "How to speak so that people want to listen" by Julian Treasure.

What’s next after giving your TED Talk?

Giving a TED or TEDx Talk is a stepping stone to success in your public speaking career and beyond. This experience can serve as a jumping off point for more even opportunities to grow as a presenter. TED conferences are also a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and discover good speakers that excite you.

In this article, we’ve gone over the following topics:

  • Finding a TED event
  • Applying to give a TED Talk
  • Drawing inspiration from other great public speakers
  • Preparing to give a TED Talk
  • Speaking with confidence

Whether it’s your lifelong dream to speak at a TED conference or you’re just looking to improve your public speaking skills, we hope you feel well-equipped to take the next steps towards giving a TED Talk.


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