Enroll Now

How to be a TEDx Speaker | Stories With Traction Podcast


SUMMARY: In this episode, Bobby Umar and Matt Zaun discuss how to land, create, and leverage a TEDx talk.

BOBBY UMAR BIO: Bobby is the CEO of DYPB (Discover Your Personal Brand) and he is a 5 times TEDx speaker.

For more info on Bobby:

MATT ZAUN BIO: Matt is an award-winning speaker and storyteller who empowers organizations to attract more clients through the art of strategic storytelling. Matt’s past engagements have catalyzed radical sales increases for over 300 organizations that range from financial institutions to the health and wellness industry.

Matt shares his expertise in persuasion with executives, sales professionals, and entrepreneurs, who he coaches on the art of influence and how to leverage this for profits and impact.

For more info, check out Matt Zaun HERE


*Below is an AI-generated transcript, which may contain errors


Matt Zaun 

have ever heard a fascinating TEDx and you thought to yourself, I want to do that, but I don't know how this

This episode is for you. Today I'm joined by Bobby Omer. He is the CEO of DYPB, discover your personal brand, and he is a five-time TEDx speaker.

Welcome to the show, Bobby.


Bobby Umar

Happy to be here, man.


Matt Zaun 

Thanks for your time. I appreciate it. It's amazing to me the amount of times people have asked me how to be a TEDx speaker.

I've been asked that numerous times over the years, upwards of probably a dozen times where people have asked that question to me.

That is not my zone of genius. That is not my expertise. So it is awesome to have you on so we could really dive into what it means to land, create, and leverage a TEDx talk.

So let's start with getting a TEDx talk. If someone listens to this as interested in being a TEDx speaker, what do they do logistically speaking to do that?


Bobby Umar

Well, general idea, number one, is what does your main idea or story you want to share? I think a lot of people don't even know what that is.

It's already come up with a lot of things that are not really that great or aligned. So I think that's the first thing you have to do.

And then the other second part is really to understand the process and how they actually get a TEDx talk.

people ask the question, Hey, how do you do this? Because really no one knows. And it's not really something that's published out there.

And every single TEDx event is different in how they do it. So if you understand that, it's really, it's hard for people to figure out that actual process.

So learning the process to actually apply for and make sure people as you like what you're doing and align with the theme of the event, those two things, having the right idea and then having the right application process to make sure you get the TEDx talk, those are probably the two biggest things that you need.

those are the things that help, of course, like networking, doing relationships, help, having a thought strong thought we should brand out there and digital presence helps, having experience as a speaker or content creator can help.

But having a book, having a program, know, we're going go metal being being well known. Those things can help.

But the two biggest things that are really helpful is having a clear idea in story and then actually going through the correct proper process to get noticed and actually get chosen.


Matt Zaun 

All very good pieces of information before we dive into the create I just want to stress you mentioned every Ted X is a little different so I want to talk about themes what would be some themes of different Ted X.


Bobby Umar

Well they're quite very because you know certain Ted X events that are focused on for example women or youth.

There's other Ted X events that are focused more on the technology piece and maybe look at Ted is actually stands for technology entertainment and design those are three very different things and not not every Ted X and it has to be those three things or one of those three things but they can vary you know there was one that I the by 5th test talk that I applied for it was called the park connection I was like well that's fantastic.

I mean that's exactly right my alley in terms of what I like to talk about so I submitted a pitch for them.

And other ones are things like I saw when I was about community, another one was about reinvention, I've seen another one that was about struggle, there was one about pain.

So they really have quite a wide variety of themes and topics.


Matt Zaun 

So people should find the themes and figure out if there are an alignment with those themes?


Bobby Umar

Ideally yes, for me the my standard process is actually come up with three TEDx talk ideas. And if they're different enough, you can actually line them with a variety of themes as opposed just being stuck on the one theme that you have.

If your talk is just about parenting and you look at that one parenting theme, TEDx talk that's quite niche and so you might have trouble doing that, what are the other two talks you have in mind?


Matt Zaun 

You always have to have a talk in your back pocket. Now what about geography when it comes to location?

So let's say there's a business leader that they are very focused on a certain city. Maybe they have a really good presence, they've done a ton of work in a city.

Should they focus on being within... in an hour to drive of that city when it comes to TEDx? Or should they not worry about that?

They should be willing to go anywhere regarding the theme that they're in alignment with.


Bobby Umar

What do you say about the geography of the TEDx talk itself? Well, that's a good question. Ideally, there are TEDx curators or event organizers who want people who are within the local area.

So there's a benefit to them as well. But at the same time, you have to also put a value on what is the TEDx worth to you?

Because for many people, the TEDx is worth quite a lot because it lands you thousands of speaking gigs, it lands you thousands of more business, it gets you to double your fees.

And so the value of it, if you travel somewhere far to have it done and make a part of your thought leadership brand, then you should go.

know, one of my colleagues, she had an opportunity, and I'm based in Canada, but she had an opportunity to go to Zurich.

And for her first TEDx talk, but she did it because it was really important to that she wanted to get it done and she had some connection there.

So, you know, go for it. So I would say that if you You really want it and you really want to see the value of what's going to do for your brand and your business, then you should be willing to go anywhere.


Matt Zaun 

Right. All right. So let's say someone they're dialed into the theme. in alignment with that. They understand the location they want to go to.

let's talk about creating the talk. What are some best practices regarding the talk creation?


Bobby Umar

Well, there's a couple of, there's a lot of not to do. So for example, you're not supposed to pitch your business at all.

So don't, you know, to pitch your business. And what's interesting is that most talks don't actually have to be about your work.

Some of the best TEDx talks are about a personal story that you've been through, something that people wouldn't expect because at the end of the day, those talks still make you very human, relatable, connected to, and that's still going to drive your business or brand and growth.

The other thing is, again, play the audience, audience of TEDx to dip in another types of audiences. So if you know exactly, you know, the audience is and what they're all about, it's really all about sharing an idea.

Sharing a story, sharing an idea. What's that one concept? The other thing I'll say is that the TEDxTalk has to be simple.

People often try to complicate it bit too much. Here's my 17-step process. OK, you know what? That's a lot.

That's the one thing, maybe three key things you want to talk about. But what's that one key thing? And the last thing I'll say is that storytelling is immersed throughout the TEDxTalk.

It's a huge part of what sets them apart. then usually most TEDxTalk start with the story. And then they get into the insights on what the learning is.

Other times they talk about the key aspects, but each key aspect has a story assigned to it.


Matt Zaun 

So it's important to understand that. Let's talk about timing, because you say one key thing. you, I'm sure you mentioned not only did a bunch to five, but also you probably heard and evaluated a lot.

Is there a current time that's the best, whether it is at eight minutes, is it 10? What is the same?


Bobby Umar

sweet spot regarding timing when it comes to TEDx talks. Yeah, so the standard for TEDx talks is 18 minutes.


Matt Zaun 

18 minutes.


Bobby Umar

Yeah, so that's what they say. And then, depending on the event, they'll give you a certain amount of time.

So my first TEDx talk I did, I was given 14 minutes. Other times, they give you less or they'll give you more.

Most people will say, I need the full 18 minutes because it's kind of, it's quite daunting. I mean, even for me, my first TEDx talk, I was, I was nervous.

They said, Bob, give the best idea of your life. deep in your personal story. Do it with minimal slides and I'm a super car boy guy.

Do it with minimal slides and then do an 18 minutes of like 18 minutes. Totally cal. Like, that's really short.

And so it's very nerve-wracking for me to do that. But 18 minutes of standard, however, there are TED talks that are really short.

mean, the famous paper towel one was only three minutes long. There's no one to tie a shoe like three minutes long.

One of the things that is notable is that while most people go for the 12, 15, 18 minute TED talks, the ones that are three or six minutes are our goal because

Because if you can come up with a TED Talk back short and that's sweet, whether that's a really unique idea, you're actually far more likely to get it because the tech's organized love that they love the short ones, right?

It's easier to get it. It's easier to fit in. Let's say they have a full rate of speakers. Hey, I had this great three minute TED Talk idea.

Can you slap me in? Absolutely. So the shorter ones are actually quite interesting.


Matt Zaun

I appreciate you mentioned that. Now, let's focus on the 18 though, because I don't want people to lose sight of this.


Bobby Umar

That's a standard. Yeah, there's a lot of people listening.


Matt Zaun 

They're probably thinking themselves. I've done tons of staff meetings over the years. I've, you know, a lot of virtual events, in-person events.

You know, I do tons of speaking. I'm sure someone's thinking that, you know, they could get out. They could speak for hours.

But I want you to talk about the importance of making every single minute of those 18 minutes matter.


Bobby Umar

Yeah, I mean, one of the best things about a TED Talk in terms of benefit is it teaches you to be concise and to the point and not put in and not try to say a lot of other things.

So So that conciseness, that brief storytelling, the ability to get to the point is to me, a really tremendous skill set that it teaches you, but also something you'll grow and learn from by actually doing one because most of us, yeah, especially at that, especially those who have seasoned experience and have years and you're behind us, we can go on about something for a long time, right?

So how do you just keep it short and sweet? But also at the same time, make it resonant and make it relevant so that at the end of it, you know what, that inspired me, it's moved me to action and I connected to that individual.

That to me is the ideal TEDx talk.


Matt Zaun

Is there a flow or a map or a journey regarding maybe like starting with a story and then maybe diving into the data points and then a story and then some action steps?

Is there a typical journey that you're taking the audience on in a TEDx that you've seen?


Bobby Umar

From what I've seen and having worked with lots and lots of people on their TEDx talks, it's different. for every single person because every TEDx talk, every TEDx advanced structure differently, and every TEDx talk idea is also structured differently.

And that said, a very common theme is to start with a story, then dive into the insight where then you may share the data or the, you know, one of the key takeaways, whatever.

And then you close with what's that final call to action. But I would say that there have been TEDx talks that change from that, and it depends on who the person is and what exactly they want to talk about.


Matt Zaun 

What if there's someone listening to this episode and they're thinking themselves, they want to do a TEDx, but they're thinking, I don't have any amazing stories that are going to wow my audience.

What would you say to that?


Bobby Umar

I'd say that's because people don't realize that. In fact, know, my signature methodology that I work on now with clients, which I kind of hold over the last two years, is to really dive into and extract those stories.

of the biggest things that happens, and this is, This is the sample of one of my first clients way, way long ago is that she had this really interesting life story and she wanted to tell the whole story.

And I'm like, look, that's not how TED Talk worked. They don't want they're not going to hear your life story.

It's a snippet of your life story. And we found something a snippet and we pulled that out. Tell me more about that.

That's what I want to hear about. And so for me, you can figure out those stories. So what I do know of my methodology is that I say, look, I want to take you through your entire life story.

I wanted to extract a dozen story ideas from this. And then maybe leveraging crowdsourcing with social media. Let's get down to your top three to five that people are really excited about.

Because every single person has a story. Every single person has ideas. So whether you're a seasoned person or a young person, I mean, they're 10-year-old to give TED Talks.

Why? Because they were able to get a really cool idea of story that they've been talked about. So you may think that you're the most supporting person on Earth.

I can tell you you were not. You all have tons of amazing things about yourself. And again, that's a mindset thing.

And we all think about ourselves. I did a post recently about that. One of the biggest bearish TED talks is this feeling that, oh, I have nothing to say or I have no good ideas or I'm a pretty poor person.

No, you know what? You have a ton in your story, your life story, but the challenge is to dive deep and extract it.

Just like people say, I don't have any problems with my mindset. I have no emotions. Well, if you dig deep and get some counseling, you will actually find things.

They're deeply in there and you uncover them. I'm like, oh my God, I did that with my food issues with binge eating and I had to really dive deep over several years and I found stuff.

Just like with your story, if you dive deep in your story, you will find so many beautiful nuggets that you never anticipated.


Matt Zaun 

As soon as you said binge eating, I continued to relate to that. So I wrestled for 10 years and it messed me up regarding a binge purge relationship with a dude.

I've had to dive real deep into figuring out how to have a healthy relationship with food.


Bobby Umar

So as soon as you said that, yeah, again, is it the most


Matt Zaun 

profound amazing story in the history of the world.


Bobby Umar

No, but I immediately related to it. And I've been struggling with this for 20 years, but then when I finally dove deep and worked with a therapist, things like that, like then I uncovered the stuff that I wasn't even realizing.

And then I found more clarity and more focus and more purposeable that I'm doing in terms of how I'm moving forward and also how I'm navigating it.


Matt Zaun 

Powerful stuff. Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate it. Would you find more than not it's cutting things out versus trying to fill the time, meaning should someone focus on maybe creating an hour of content and then creating to cutting to 18 minutes?

Or do you find maybe someone will have like 10 minutes of content and then they're trying to stretch and expand to those 18?


Bobby Umar

That's a good question. I mean, when I work with before I did the TEDx stuff, I worked with just paid speakers.

And I always said that, you know, what is your one, two or three big ideas? Have that key. you know, version of it, have the TEDx version of it, and have the 3-minute video version of it.

So you could have an hour-long talk, or if you're even gonna talk, and then turn it into a TED talk.

It's much easier to, you know, take a really good idea and a really good, you know, set up presentation, and then hone it in a way that's really concise and gets to the point.

I'd rather do that, you know, edit the best pieces than actually try to feel space. That makes sense.


Matt Zaun 

No, that makes a lot of sense. So let's say someone, they understand how to land a TED talk, have, they created the stories, and also the one key thing they're gonna focus on, and then they actually do the TEDx, and it goes exceptionally well.

Now, how do they leverage it? I want you to speak to people so they could see this more from a futuristic perspective.

What it could do for them when it comes to sales, marketing, branding, boosting their business, how can they truly leverage a TEDx talk?


Bobby Umar

Well, let's go before the TEDx actually happens. So what you should be be doing is you should be using the social media and your branding to actually talk about this.

Take people on the journey of what you're doing. The announcements you get accepted, now you're preparing your crowdsourcing, hey, you're some of the thoughts I got, what you guys think about this?

What you think about this story? them through the journey with you because when it comes to digital thought leadership, which is the other that I'd love to talk about, taking people on the journey with what you're going through and powers them to be part of it and they love that, that whole feeling.

Because then later on, now you're top of mind and they're thinking about you when they think about you as an expert storyteller or expert authority in your field.

That's what Ted is does for you. Once you have a text talk, yeah, what are you releasing from the video?

Are you launching snippets? Are you putting pieces of it and trying them into content that you can repurpose across all platforms?

Yes, you should be thinking about those things because once you add TedX to your brand, you are instantly seeing someone's credibility as somebody who has authority in their space and expert in their field.

storytelling, your your coach or consultant, like there's so much there that you can leverage. So you put that in your brandy, put that in your email marketing, you put that in everything you talk about.

And of course you and you continue share nuggets and stories from that experience and from the talk itself as you're putting stuff out there.

So when I'm talking to clients or when I put stuff out there, I'll mention the five time TEDx speaker.

I'll mention the things that I talked about. I'll mention that because you know, that brandy piece sets you apart.

And that's where when you are pricing your services or you're speaking fees, you can go higher than you did before.

you're pricing other things, you can go hard. You actually attract, you know, higher level people, whether it's for job opportunities or for business leads or for potential clients.

So what I'd say is that it should be part of your marketing. But the other thing is should be part of your branding.

So for example, let's say if I were to do a TEDx talk on binge eating, per se, even though my main area is, you know, brand value or some TEDx talks, I would take

that test talk that I did on binge eating and reframe it in terms of what I do for a living.

So, you know, for example, binge eating here are three things I learned from binge eating. I'll take one of those pieces that I'm going to apply to personal brand or apply to thought leadership or apply to how to get a TEDx talk because that's actually going to be far more relevant.

Take the story and idea that you had and then reframe it within the scope of what you do for a living.

That works very, very well to generate more business and get better clients.


Matt Zaun 

Let's not warrant to take people on the journey with you because I want people to have pictures in their mind of what that looks like.

So, are you referring to, you know, maybe they're driving to the event so they're getting in the car, they're saying, hey, heading to the TEDx event and then maybe the setup behind the scenes and that like is it is it every stage along the way them sharing their journey or what does that look like?


Bobby Umar

Yeah, so I mean, I would share the acceptance letter that you're going to the TEDx event. I would share a sneak peek of the slides you're creating for the TEDx.

talk, I would share, I drive by the event space to be before it's happening, right? There's probably a tech rehearsal, and you can show the, you can show the stage and the audience that's empty.

And take a photo of that, take a video of yourself. How does this feel? I'm one week away or I'm one day away or I'm one hour away.

Take us, take us to every single aspect of Africa. I've done my TEDx talk. How do I feel? Interview people?

Hey, guys, I just did my test job. What was your impression? Get people to share with you, make them part of the journey.

Day actors, reflections of what happened and what I learned from it. People that I met, things that I did, talk talks that I saw, because one of the things about TEDx too, is it's giving too.

You might see, like my first TEDx talk I ever did, I saw two other amazing talks, wow, these guys are so good.

And I was like talking about them and we'd be all, it was became good buddies. And that was an amazing experience to share with everybody and pretty soon we collaborated with one another.

So. I would actually look at every single moment where you're experiencing and feeling and learning and you want people feel and learn experience with you.

That's what you take them on.


Matt Zaun 

So I years ago I tied into the National Speakers Association, the Philadelphia chapter and there's two speakers in particular that I want to mention they both the Ted axis.

Okay, one, well both of them were very good from a content perspective. So when you watched the talk, you got a lot out of both of them.

One landed a substantial amount of business from the TEDx. The other got nothing out of it. Now here's what's interesting to me.

The person that got a lot out of it, they got their audience prepped for this. This person mentioned to me, she said she sent out a bunch of emails to different organizations on the topic and getting them excited on when it was going to launch.

then there's tons of different emails and almost a whole P. apparatus built around to regarding this and it did exceptionally well.

The other one focused so much on the preparation leading up to it, failed to do anything on what happens when this does go well.

So to make sure that doesn't happen to anyone else, what are some things people can get in place to make sure that they can line things up, to make sure that it really maximizes the amount of time seeing that talk to land more business?


Bobby Umar

Well, I think that we were to talk about the fact that taking people in the story is one piece.

The other thing that you mentioned, which is the PR piece, a lot of people don't really think about that.

having a PR machine in place where you actually have press release is sent out, here's what, you know, like, Bob, everyone's gonna be featured on this thing.

gonna talk about this and, you know, if you want to interview him and to talk about the three key points he's gonna talk about, then that could go over well.

So I think being able to position yourself to do PR on media and showing up on radio shows and TV shows and things that.

Secondly, being able to talk about what you're gonna talk about on the TEDx talks. in podcasts and other types of interviews where people can actually interview that again, build the awareness.

The one that I think a lot of us don't use as much is our friend network. This is a big deal.

It's a big deal. My first TEDx talk was a very big deal to me. I asked everyone to share it.

I asked everyone, this is my first time I really want to make this big. Can you please help me with this?

I had dozens of people in my corner willing to share and build energy around that first talk. That's why the first talk I think did quite well with the reach and the views and things like that.

think that's an important piece. I think the last one is after the talk is done, what are you doing to actually talk about it and keep the key relevance alive.

Because ultimately, the end of the day, the primary goal you want actually is you want to get the 10.

One is to have the video, which is great. The video is a great marketing tool. What you really want is you want to have the awareness building program after

Talk comes out and most importantly you want to have a good enough talk that it gets on the Ted.com site Because that's when things take off the people that I know who've done that and you we know the famous ones like Simon Senek and Bernie Brown who did like you know these Ted X talks that got featured in Ted Com site and then their businesses and their brands took off like crazy That's what you want because it's a very very small percentage that gets on the Ted.com website Wow Thank you so much.


Matt Zaun

I learned so much regarding landing creating and leveraging a Ted X talked for me today Thank you I there's three takeaways that I got from this conversation Bobby The first is Ted X events have different themes and we need to focus on the theme that aligns with what we do I very much appreciate that the second is the importance of those personal stories and making sure that we're keeping it simple and focusing on one key point

And then the third and final piece that I think a lot of people can learn from is taking people on the journey with us from start and then even past the finish stage so I appreciate those three points.

Now if anyone wants to get more information on on you they want to reach out for coaching regarding teddacks.

Where's the best place they can go to get that information.


Bobby Umar

I think the best places are either my website rail and dot com or my LinkedIn profile you see everything that I do there in terms of what I talk about I'm across all social media to all the other other platforms as well but those are probably the two best ones.


Matt Zaun 

Perfect I will include that in the show notes people just click and go from there. Thank you so much Bob you have very much appreciate our time together today.


Bobby Umar

My pleasure man thanks.


Want weekly updates...

to take your storytelling
to a whole new level?