How to craft an idea into a TEDx talk


You stand on a red circle on stage.  You take a deep breath.  This is your moment, your opportunity to share your idea.   You step forward….it is time for your TEDx talk.
How to deliver a TEDx talk

Many people approach me because they want this moment.   It has been on their to do list. They know delivering a TEDx talk carries with it status and respect. They have an experience to share.

The TED stage is a respected, revered and renowned platform.  Potentially, hundreds of thousands of people across the globe get to see and hear your video and be influenced by your idea. 

The premise of TED is Ideas worth Spreading.  This is important to note.

A story isn’t an idea.  An experience or expertise aren’t Ideas.  An Idea is something that is important to you AND can give the audience a different lens through which to see themselves or their world. It sparks curiosity and starts conversations.

It’s the ideas that get selected first, speaker second

Ashley Costello spoke at TEDxNorthwich in 2019.  She is an expert in education and mental well-being.  20 years as a psychotherapist were vital for her credibility and insight, but it was her Idea (that education was broken and that there is another way we can educate and support our children), that earned her place.

Start with your idea

What next?

Crafting your talk is vital.   This is more than curating content and sequencing that content.  It is carefully choosing the right word, phrase, story and expression.  The deliberate, intentional sequencing. The talk is dynamic, inspirational delivery. It takes time and thrives on feedback and consistent effort. It requires reflection, editing and above all commitment.

What makes a Tedx talk?

Here are my four cornerstones of exceptional talks.

1. Focus

You need to be looking in the right direction.   If your focus is on what you have to tell the audience, then you’ll be wordy, informational and unengaging.

Think about what the audience need to hear.  Choose content and ways of expression with the audience in mind. It makes things concise. Compelling to listen to. Memorable.  Ultimately your talk has more impact.

2. Curiosity

If people know what you are going to say and can predict how you are going to say it, they won’t fully engage and don’t feel compelled to connect with your Idea.

Build curiosity into both the structure and delivery.  Using questions and stories are two of the powerful ways to involve people. Building up to a big reveal, teasing the audience and creating anticipation, shock, fascination, or surprise are other ways. This is less about downloading information and more about creating a transformational listening experience.

3. Journey

Think of your talk as a journey.  You and the audience start the journey together.  Your talk takes the audience to the destination.  Working out the map, the milestones, the points of interest and unexpected surprises means that your audience are active listeners not passive watchers.

 4. Energy and engagement.

Audiences whose attention isn’t captured from the get -go or who fall asleep because the delivery is boring won’t get your idea!  So, you must build in mechanisms to grab their attention, keep it, and maximise it: stories, examples and metaphors are good ways of doing this.

How do you deliver a TEDx talk?

Crafting a talk is one thing: delivering it is another.  Practice, rehearsal and feedback is crucial.  Don’t leave this to the end of the preparation process: build it into your preparation process. Start early.  50% of your preparation should be saying your talk out loud.

Catherine Sandland speaking coach

How much time does it take to prepare a talk?

It can easily take more than 120 hours to prepare for a TEDx talk. If you want to deliver a TEDx talk, then you need to be able to dedicate hours of blood, sweat and tears!

If you’d like to know how to deliver a TEDx talk, take a read of this blog.

So, is it worth it?

To answer this question, you need to know why you are doing it in the first place. Fundamentally, the TEDx platform is a platform for spreading ideas.  If your idea is important to you and you know that people hearing it will benefit from it, then yes.  It is worth it.

Raised profile, being associated with an Idea, status and credibility of a TEDx speaker are just some of the benefits.

Nicola Morgan, TEDxNorthwich 2023 has found that she is sought after as a speaker and her status has opened opportunities for her business.

Karl Perry, TEDxWarrington gets messages from people moved by his talk in 2023.  As a bonus, his talk has encouraged many people to undertake CPR training. This is a great example of change happening because of an idea being delivered locally and then uploaded onto a global platform.

The chance to speak about my idea from the TEDx stage in 2016, crystalised for me what I stood for and what I believed in.  It was the start of a journey to support others in using public speaking to create change and good in the world.

Tedx Talk

Top tips

  1. Be utterly focused on your idea and communicate with passion, clarity and meaning.
  2. Think about what they audience need to hear and who needs to hear it right now. Deliver to these people with as much meaning as you can muster.
  3. Practice your talk so you can deliver without reference to notes and connect with the audience Create an experience.
  4. Be yourself. This is your talk.  You have earned the right to deliver it from such a prestigious stage.  Put your heart and soul into it.  Enjoy it.

As a believer in the power of speaking to create good in the world, I love what TED and TEDx stand for.  Supporting speakers to stand on that stage and make their difference is an absolute joy.

Is it easy? No.

Is it hard work? Yes.

Is it time for you to step forward and start a conversation or spark curiosity? Well, that’s up to you to answer…

If you’d like help preparing a idea for a TEDx talk, or even crating and delivering your talk, let’s chat – get in touch.