Photo by Mary Fenton

Preparing a TEDx Talk is more challenging than most first-time TEDx speakers realize.

Even folks with vast public speaking experience find this TED Talk stuff to be a new animal.

I’ve been coaching speakers for TEDxAsburyPark (formerly TEDxNavesink) for the past few years and here are the best tips from the speakers I worked most closely with this year.

Their wisdom…in their own words…

After reading, click on each talk title to have a listen.

Search for a Deeper Truth: “Writing a talk (hopefully a good talk) requires practice, editing, openness, and a willing to throw it all out in search for a deeper truth. While any one of us might be subject experts, few of us probably have the expertise to make our subject digestible to a diverse audience. My coach helped me polish an idea into a talk that allowed my listeners to hear a very basic reality in a new way.” From Joe Primo, CEO of Good Grief


Joe Primo (and guest Izzy): Grief is Good (photo by Mary Fenton)

Own Your Talk: “It was really helpful when my coach made it very clear that it’s my talk to own, and that her guidance was not the holy grail. This allowed me to take ownership over my work and feel like it was authentically my message. I also found it helpful to be accountable to deadlines my coach and I set. This process taught me more about what I value in terms of my process and final product.” From Jasmin Singer, Memoirist (Always Too Much and Never Enough), Podcast Host (Our Hen House), Senior Editor of VegNews Magazine


Jasmin Singer: Compassion Unlocks Identity (photo by Mary Fenton)

It’s a Process: “Let go of your attachment to your words and thoughts and be prepared to lose a lot of what you write. Creating a TEDx talk is a process and it pays to prepare. But then also know when to stop making changes so you can practice and own your talk and work on your delivery.” From Christine Zilinski, Hair Salon Owner and Leadership Expert


Christine Zilinski: Hair I Am (Photo by Cheryl Auditor)

Sculpt Your Talk: “Working with a coach was not something I thought I needed and I could not have been more wrong. By focusing on the ‘Big Idea’ I was able to sculpt the talk to follow a theme throughout. After just a few meetings with my coach I saw that what I was saying and what I thought I was saying were not the same. This process allowed me to truly understand the impact I wanted my words to have.” From Carl Perino, Middle School Principal


Carl Perino: Kids are Not Standardized (photo by Cheryl Auditor)

4. Every. Word. Counts: Mariah Fenton Gladis received a moving standing ovation. And she spoke fewer words than any other speaker. What happened? Well, Mariah is a 36-year survivor of ALS and speaks with an “ALS accent” so each sentence she spoke was repeated by an ALS interpreter (who happened to be Mariah’s husband, Ron). Mariah’s skilled curators, Mary Rawlinson and Fran Ferrone, helped Mariah to pare down her talk to its core. This confirmed for me that most talks would be twice as good if they were half as long. Here’s what Mariah had to say about her experience:

“I needed my coaches’ direction to understand what makes a speech valuable and alive. They gave me ideas to make my talk sparkle and were also open to me challenging what didn’t feel right. I learned that giving a good speech is different than writing a book. The audience is right there and you need to connect with them.”


Mariah Fenton Gladis (with Ron Gladis): Arrive Already Loved (photo by Mary Fenton)

So, I’d say that creating a TEDx Talk is a process that takes more time than you expect, more drafts than you imagine, more insight than you knew you had, fewer (carefully chosen) words and a super strong editing muscle. What would you say?

Thank you, Carl, Christine, Joe, Jasmin and Mariah for the many lessons!

If you’ve got a TEDx talk in your future and would benefit from coaching please get in touch at: Jamie@LessStressBusiness.com

For more TEDx Lessons: Here’s what I learned from last year’s curation process: My 5 AdamMeTEDxAsburyPark5.20.17Lessons as a TEDx Speaker Curator

And a special thanks to my son, Adam, for making time to experience the day with me.

6 thoughts on “Best Tips to Prep a TEDx Talk (from a TEDx Speaker Coach)

  1. thank you Jamie! What an inspiring post, even for those who won’t be giving a TEDx talk anytime soon!

  2. This post is great Jamie! As one of the many speakers that you have coached so well in the TEDx process, I can say that you have nailed how giving a TEDx talk differs from other speaking experiences. Thank you for your insights then, now, and in the future. What a treasure your wisdom, friendship, and kindness really are! I grew so much from my experience of the TEDx journey with you as my coach! xo 🙂

  3. Outstanding, Jamie! And all the more powerful because it’s in the words of the people you coached so successfully. Congratulations to them and you!

    1. Thanks so much, Claire! I bet you’d be great at coaching TEDx speakers…not that you need more work:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.