So you want to be a TED speaker

TEDxYouth@SeaburyHall 2015

This year I was asked to mentor the speakers of TEDxYouth@Seabury Hall for the 2nd year in a row.

The eleven youth were chosen through auditions and came from schools all over Maui.  They spoke on topics ranging from social discrimination, feminism, asexuality and taking risks to finding one’s passion through art and self-expression.

Speaking for a TED and TEDx event is an honor exclusive to those with an IDEA to share.  It’s about having an opinion or view on life, or a new way of doing things, either practically through technology, or through new methods of teaching.  All of these are designed to effect positive change in the world.

TEDx are independant TED-like events that can be held by anyone with a license from TED.  On Maui we have had several TEDxMaui events for the adults with a hawaii-based theme, and last year a student from Seabury Hall, Jasmine Doan, took the initiative to start this youth event.

My role as a mentor was to help the speakers with their confidence, their message and their delivery – all areas that can make a difference to how a presentation comes across to the audience.

These youth had varying levels of experience and ability for public speaking, but the important thing they all had was a desire to get their message out.  This desire is a great antidote for the fear that can stop one from stepping up on the stage.

Our speakers had some great stories to tell which exemplified there message.  The best ones came out with impact engaging the audience from the start with a story, or a question.

My work with them included a 1-day workshop to teach them stage presence, message structure and to change their stage movements from distracting to purposeful.  Follow-up work involved refining their message and delivery, and rehearsal.

The biggest challenge for the speakers was remembering their talk, with many leaving it to the last few days to let go of the script.  Some were challenged to how best to complete their message.

My tip for those who are thinking of putting together a TED talk in the future are:

1. Prepare your message completely.

Don’t ‘wing’ part or all of it.  The more detailed you are in your preparation, the better and more clearly you can get your message across.  You also avoid those moments searching for the right words to convey your message.

2. Practice, practice, practice.

Practice the whole talk, parts of the talk, and all the segues and transitions so that you know your talk inside and out.   Practicing the connections between sections will stimulate your memory and help you to keep flowing during your talk.

By the way, if you are planning to wear high-heels, or a special pair of shoes for your talk, be sure to practice your talk wearing them.  You want to feel comfortable on stage and know that you can perform your best.

3.  Let go.

Now that you have prepared and practiced your talk, it’s time to let go of it needing to be word perfect.  Trust you know your material and that the right words will come.

Want to get it right and make an impact – get a mentor to help you refine your message and teach you the finer nuances of delivery and presentation skills.

A TED talk is a great honor and privilege and an opportunity to get your message out to a very large audience.  It’s worth getting it right.

Contact me to discuss your TED(x) talk.


“Before working with Annette Lynch my stage presence was very fidgety and I had never thought of going through my talk and planning my movements.  During her workshop and later an individual review, Annette helped me with hand movements and knowing where to stand and what to do on stage.  
My TEDxYouth Presentation was more clear, coherent and visually pleasing because I wasn’t clomping around like an idiot across the stage.  I am very conscious of my body language on stage now and I actually plan how I am going to move and stand when presenting.”
Rosie Sutherland, Speaker, TEDxYouth @SeaburyHall, Maui