5 warning signs someone is not ready to speak at your TEDx event

by Pierre Morsa —

“Don’t worry, I’m experienced, I speak at conferences all the time!” How many times have we heard that sentence from speakers who never did a TEDx style talk, yet think that, because of experience, they can just wing it? For us, it’s not reassuring. Quite the opposite, it’s a clear warning sign that the speaker doesn’t really know what is expected of him. Here are five warning signs that give you clues that your speaker may not be ready to give a TEDx style talk.

  1. Thinking that traditional speaking experience can replace TEDx specific preparation. We’ve seen many speakers who were very good at giving unstructured talks, or 1h presentations, or improvise during a round table. But giving a TEDx Talk requires a whole different level of commitment and preparation. Make sure your speaker understands what is expected of him.
  2. Constantly changing the key topic, storyline or angle. Some speakers seem to be unable to discipline themselves to stick to the planned storyline. They constantly change their mind. After several weeks of preparation they come up with draft version 2453 of their talk, but it’s not better than draft version 1. And on D Day, they want to change their story again.
  3. Not putting in the necessary hours to prepare. Nobody can deliver a breakthrough talk without preparing and rehearsing properly. It’s just not possible. Those speakers doing OK Without preparation? They just rehash what they usually say. They don’t cover new ground. They don’t bring new ideas to the table. They just missed a big opportunity to innovate.
  4. Not wanting to adapt his presentation. Some speakers are unwilling to move away from what they usually do. Because of the fear of the unknown, the fear of change, or just plain stubbornness. They may not be the best person to speak at your TEDx event.
  5. Too passionate to keep an open mind. I have seen several activists who were so passionate about the cause they were defending that they couldn’t conceive others did not necessarily share their views. They spoke passionately about their fight, de facto excluding everyone who didn’t share their point of view, and creating a feeling of aggression in the majority of the public.

In collaboration with the presentation directors, the curator of the event has the responsibility to look for these clues, and if necessary axe the speaker from the program. It’s much better to remove one speaker from the show, even if he’s already announced on the program, than take the risk of a disaster on stage.

Slippery floor