3 Rules to Giving a TEDx Talk that Gets Over 1 Million Views (My Fave Case Studies, Interviews & Tools Included)

Scott Being Crazy on Stage

Rule #3: Get a little crazy on stage. But maybe not as crazy as I got…

-Scott in reference to the TEDx pic

Guidance on Making This Really Useful: This post is meant to serve as a working guide for giving a talk that can change lives. I’ve included videos and interviews to serve as case studies and models as well as some amazing free tools from around the web to be sure this stuff sticks. So save this post and pull it up any time you’re thinking of taking the stage!

Now let’s have some fun…

How Do You Inspire Possibility in an Audience?

It’s a question I’ve gotten wrong a lot. And one I’m constantly working on.

I realize we’ve talked a lot about connecting in the past few weeks, but the conversation has been missing something big. So today I want to round it out with a little chat about connecting on a much bigger level … the main stage.

Under the right conditions, I don’t believe there’s any more powerful way to spread an idea, build a revolution or inspire people towards positive change than being live on stage in the flesh and blood. Just ask Steve Jobs or Martin Luther King Jr.

I had a similar experience a little over a year ago, albeit on a much smaller level compared to those guys, but still huge by my standards.

In 2012, I was asked to speak at TEDxGoldenGatePark. It was a major dream goal, and I was the very late-stage addition after two speakers canceled at the last minute. I had 6 days to prepare (the others had 6-9 months). I can’t describe the whirlwind that ensued. I wrote about all the details in this post: How to Get Invited to Speak at TEDx (and get 40,147 views in 5 days).

Somehow that talk I gave to a room of 150 people at the de Young Museum in San Francisco has now been viewed 1,207,198 times and is currently ranked #17 of 38,561 TEDx talks on YouTube. This is still hard for me to believe. My initial goal was to get over 15,000 views. No joke.

Now more people view the talk every day than visit all of Live Your Legend. It’s by far the most impactful thing I’ve ever done for my career and this Revolution. In fact, if I had to list the top five most game-changing events of my business life, it would probably be all five.

I am far from an expert on public speaking, but over the past year, a ton of you have asked about how this all came to be, so I thought it’s about time I share what I think made some of the difference – based on a lot of personal research. Plus, I’ve been asked to give a lot more talks this year and have some serious preparing to do, so this will be a nice personal review!

I also realize there is surely an enormous amount of luck that went into all this happening, and no one really knows how things get popular on the Internet or in the real world.

But I do know that I studied every one of the most inspiring, popular and successful talks I could get my hands on before I stepped on that stage in 2012. I wanted to do everything in my power to give it a shot at deeply connecting with the audience, and hopefully on a global scale. Wise words about chance from Thomas Jefferson are etched into a mug on my desk…

“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

I noticed three things that I believe make all the difference and that every powerful orator seems to have in common. And as it turns out, every less-than-inspiring talk I’ve seen is usually lacking all of them.


The 3 Rules to Giving a TEDx Talk that Gets Over 1,000,000 Views

#1. Tell a Story the World Can Get Behind & Make It Resonate

Without a story, a talk is nothing. Everyone has a story to tell and it’s on you to discover and tell yours in the most compelling way possible. If you don’t think you have one, then keep digging and ask others close to you. Then refine like crazy.

Next realize it’s not about you. It’s about everyone else. Your audience is the main character, and in order to connect, you absolutely must tell your story in a way that makes the journey their own. I spoke of my meaningless job, my desire to have an impact and the world I believe is possible if we all started to do the work that mattered to us. Sadly, this is a script that the great majority of the planet shares. I tell my story and they hear their own.

I have Nancy Duarte to thank for showing me the light on storytelling (and really everything in this post). Nancy’s work changed everything I thought I knew about communicating and connecting on stage. She’s an ex-presidential speech writer who has started a firm that now coaches some of the biggest names and companies in the world in giving talks that inspire action. She discovered a framework that every inspiring talk in history seemed to follow – from Martin Luther King Jr. to Steve Jobs … and even Jesus.

She wrote the entire framework up into a gorgeously visually designed book called Resonate. And the most brilliant part is she turned it into an interactive multi-touch electronic book for the iPad. And it’s 100% free! That’s how deeply she believes in sharing her ideas. Download Resonate for free here. I’ve recently dug back into it for some talks I have coming up this year and continue to be blown away.

I believe Nancy’s work is responsible for at least 80% of any success I have on stage or in any story-telling setting. I owe her a lot. (And hat tip to Corbett Barr for introducing me to Nancy’s work.)

I’ve embedded Nancy’s TEDx talk, The Secret Structure of Great Talks, below. It describes the full Resonate framework:

Click here to watch the talk on LYL.

Next, Start with Why…

The second boatload of credit goes to Simon Sinek and his TEDx talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action. It’s been one of the top talks on all of TED for years. I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about him by now, so I won’t get too deep here.

His simple mantra is, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” And we’re not just talking buying as in spending money. It’s really about buying into an idea or belief. You simply cannot fully influence behavior if you don’t tell a resonant story that starts with Why. That’s what allows a community to take your ideas on as their own. Every revolution starts with enough people who believe in the same thing. I see Simon and Nancy’s work as joined at the hip.

Watch Simon’s TED Talk below. I’ve watched it over 15 times. He’s also a lights-out presenter and storyteller. No surprise…

To dig deeper, below is an interview I did with Simon a while back. I actually built the whole Live Your Legend community and brand based on starting with why. Thanks, Simon!

Click here to watch both of Simon’s talks on LYL.

Telling a story that resonates and is packed with enough Why is what requires the serious heavy lifting and thinking. Then comes the easier stuff…

#2. Be Contagious & Make Your Audience Feel Your Emotion

If you’re not passionate about what you’re talking about, then don’t even think about stepping on the stage. You’ll waste everyone’s time. If you don’t care, how the hell do you expect anyone else to?

And when you do bring the passion, then make damn sure the audience can feel it! Step #1 is what makes this possible. People want to be inspired and be around excited, passionate and inspiring people and ideas. If you become that person for others, you build immediate rapport and have the chance for lifetime connection.

I remember Dale Carnegie saying that you can turn anyone into a great public speaker if you get them talking about what makes them really angry. Or at the least, lessons learned…

“Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to keep the attention of their listeners.” ~ Dale Carnegie

Carnegie also found with his public speaking students that speaking about angry topics (i.e. the things they really couldn’t stand or wanted to change about the world), often removed their fear of being in front of a crowd. Not a bad trick.

Sometimes, I can’t even bring up the topic of doing work you love in social settings because Chelsea gets embarrassed with how worked up and intense I can get. But that’s because I believe so strongly in what’s possible if people make the changes I know they’re capable of.

Your goal is to leave the audience pumped with the same emotion and passion you feel from the stage. Leave them with a newfound belief in possibility, and most importantly, in themselves.

Jamie Oliver won the TED Prize in 2010, and he gets so worked up in his talk that he nearly goes to tears. I get chills even thinking about it.

In fact, here’s a box to check: Give your audience chills. Simple.

Here’s Jamie’s talk – Teach Every Child about Food. I watch this talk and Simon’s before I step on any stage:

Click here to watch the talk on LYL.

#3. Move Around and Get a Little Crazy!

This one is so simple, yet so huge. And I’m convinced that if you nail your story and bring the passion (and maybe do a few pushups and burpees in the green room), you won’t be able to contain yourself. I bet there is a direct correlation between the success of a talk and the amount the speaker moves around, gestures and does memorable crazy things.

Sure, you can overdo this, but I much prefer to err on that side. I was flailing around so much at one point that my mic flew off my ear halfway through. I was so into my story that I didn’t even notice until I left the stage. My mic was just hanging off my shoulder like a crazy man. But I was telling a story about the boy in the wheelchair who swam from Alcatraz with me, and I just couldn’t help myself.

It’s okay to be a little crazy. Plus, the more senses and dimensions on which you can engage with your audience, the more memorable you become.

You want to be sure no one remembers your talk? Get on stage, sit in a chair, don’t move and talk monotone. Easy.

Benjamin Zander’s TED Talk on the Transformative Power of Classic Music hits all this stuff so well. Here’s his talk…

Click here to watch the talk on LYL.

Tony Robbins’ TED Talk on Why We Do What We Do also kills it with crazy movement and storytelling.

And here’s a link to my talk on How to Find and Do Work You Love so you can see me flail a little bit and watch my mic fly off my head…

Check out around 10:02. And yeah, I know I walk around way too quickly and too often. That’s a nervous habit I’m constantly working on. Like I said, I’m an example of overdoing it. :)

Also I recently did an interview on Bryan Kelly’s web show, What The Speak, about my TEDx experience. He did a great job interviewing. Here it is:

Click here to watch the interview and talk on LYL.

And don’t forget to get yourself in the right state!

Remember, no one does this stuff alone. Make watching a TED Talk a part of your daily routine. Learn and borrow from others who have gone before you and keep a few of your favorite talks on hand and watch them repeatedly leading up to your event and the week and day before you go on stage. Some of my all time favorites (other than the ones listed in this post) can be found here: The 14 Most Powerful TED Talks for Disruptive Career Change & Making a Difference.

And I wasn’t joking about doing some burpees and pushups a few minutes before you hit the stage. I love putting on my “inspire me” mix on my iPhone and getting a little crazy in private before it’s time to roll. :)

The Right Talk Has the Potential to Influence the World

That’s the beauty of this. The right stage combined with the proper audience, idea and delivery has the chance to ripple across the whole damn world, especially with today’s technology. That’s the crazy and amazing thing about all this. It’s actually possible to give a talk to 150 people and have a million see it. Or 10 or 100 million.

And so much of how we communicate our message is in our control.

This list doesn’t guarantee your idea will go viral. Not even close. But I hope it shows you the 80/20 of what can give your talk a legitimate chance at changing the world.

And the beauty of these three pillars is that they don’t just apply to talks. They can be used in some way in every form of communication, and when done in the right way, they’ll transform your ability to connect and build rapport with the people you care about helping. And that’s all we’re really out to do, anyway.

I believe that everyone has an idea that, if communicated in the right way, has the potential to move mountains.

A vision, that under ideal circumstances, can become its own revolution.

Creating that environment is more in your hands than you probably realize.

So all this begs the question…

What’s yours?

Here’s to taking a stage by storm and becoming contagious,


Going Deeper:

1. To learn more about my full experience with how my TEDx Talk came to be and the ridiculous amount of work that went into preparing and then getting the word out, read this: How to Get Invited to Speak at TEDx (and get 40,147 views in 5 days).

2. For a list of a few more moving talks, check this post out: The 14 Most Powerful TED Talks for Disruptive Career Change & Making a Difference.

3. Be sure to Download Nancy Duarte’s Resonate book for free here! It’s pure gold.

Do you have a talk you’re proud of or a question or idea to share on giving a talk that resonates? Please share the link to you talk or post your question as a comment below.

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Your 1st Step: Find One Person Who Inspires Possibility (here’s how + 1 day book giveaway)

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

I live by this quote.

Like, literally I do.

In fact, let’s read it again for good measure…

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

It’s one of the opening slides of every Connection Workshop we do (as it was last night) and I like to publish the above image every time we open up our Connect with Anyone community. It’s a quote I read almost daily.

I believe there is no more powerful life hack in the history of the world than the people you choose to surround yourself with. Start a business, change careers, lose 50 pounds, run an ultramarathon. No matter what you’re looking to do, the people change everything.

And what’s every crazier is the impact community can have on your health (or lack thereof).

Last week my good friend Lissa Rankin sent me a quote that she said I could share with you all. Lissa is an MD who recently wrote the runaway NYT bestselling book Mind Over Medicine. In it she digs deep into peer-reviewed medical research from the most reputable establishments on the planet in an effort to discover what really causes and/or prevents disease.

The results will blow your mind. She basically found that whatever triggers the stress response most in your body, is the most deadly. That led hear to say the following…

“Copious scientific data proves that loneliness is a greater risk to your health than smoking or lack of exercise, and finding your tribe is better than any vitamin, diet, or exercise regimen.” 

– Lissa Rankin, M.D. 

Scary? Um, yeah.

Then I came across this one from Albert Einstein from decades before the term ‘social media’ was first uttered…

“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” – Albert Einstein

Seeing both these messages in the same week, from people I deeply respect, brought a totally new meaning to the community work we’re doing at Live Your Legend, Connect with Anyone and Live Your Legend LOCAL.

You see, I believe we’re in the middle of a global connection crisis. While technology has the potential to bring us closer together, for the most part things like Facebook friends are being used as a replacement for real relationships and it’s destroying our potential for genuine connection. We’re left lonely, uninspired and as it turns out, anything but healthy.

This frightens me.

But the good news?

The beauty of all this is…

Who we choose to hang out with (or choose not to) is 100% in our control.

That is why my team and I have poured our heart and soul into creating and constantly improving How to Connect with Anyone – a course and tight-knit community dedicated to surrounding yourself with the people who refuse to let you fail. We even hand place you into your own mastermind & accountability teams with other like-minded members, so you have a new support team from day one.

As of 9am PST this morning, we’ve opened the course to its next crop of students (I like to call them family members). And this time around we’ve totally revamped the course based on alumni feedback. That’s how we roll :). I cannot wait to see what you all think of it! You can check out the details here.

This community is small and intimate by design.

We only take a max of 250 members each opening, and as of writing this it looks like there are about 198 left (the folks on our Insider’s wait list always get a chance to join early).

I’ve never been more proud of a project I’ve worked on (or the results it’s gotten for its members). If you think a more empowering environment (of people who actually believe in your wild and crazy ideas) would help you make your impact on the world, I encourage you to check it out. It has sold out the last three times we’ve opened it, and either way, we’ll close the doors next Tuesday at midnight so we can all dig into the material as a team together.

Also, to celebrate the opening, I thought it’d be fun to give away a few things directly related to building world-class connections.

So, if you are one of the first few to join:

  1. First 10 to join get a print copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People - my absolute favorite book for building genuine connections!
  2. First 48 people can get access to hand-ons private coaching from me and our team throughout the whole course (more on that option below)
  3. Every member gets a free copy of our Live Off Your Passion “Lite” career course – since ‘leading with passion’ is the foundation for genuine connection.

If you already know this is something you want to do, you might as well grab a spot sooner rather than later so you can get in on the bonuses. But only if feels like the right fit for your big plans.

Speaking of coaching, here’s what I’m even more excited about this time around…

Far and away the #1 new feature readers and past members have asked for is: “More hands-on accountability and access to Scott and his team”. And when our members speak, we listen!

For CWA3 we added a totally new level of accountability and intimacy that ended up completely transforming the results members got. It was incredible to see. And because it’s so hands-on, we can only offer it to the first 60 members (12 of those spots have already been taken). You can learn more about the coaching package under Option 2 on the course description page.

We have hundreds of alumni from 33 countries excited to welcome in our members (the forums are already buzzing with activity), and our alumni have also offered to answer any questions for you guys if you have them. Just let us know using the green help button on the left of this page.

Also be sure to check out all our member stories. Here’s one of my favorites – I love how Gregory’s story shows the type of possibility that a supportive and inspiring team of peers and mentors can create…

Gregory's StoryI completed a third of the course and it changed my life. Ever since I joined your course, I designed my own website, I wrote and published my own book, I moved to Italy, I met an awesome girl and I won that Toastmasters contest!

- Gregory B., Rome, Italy


Step #1: Find One Person Who Inspires You – and hang out with them!

And just to get those of you new around here up to speed…

Because I believe the topic of environment is so important, over the next week I’ll be sharing some directly actionable things you can do on your own to start transforming your surroundings. I also know that at max only 250 of you will be joining the course, plus it might not make sense for some of you at your current stage. You know better than I do and that’s totally fine. But either way I still want to help you make some positive change.

So… Step #1 is to find one person who inspires you. 

Meeting and interacting with inspiring people was the single biggest factor that allowed me to find and do work I love. I’ve always kept a journal of everyone I come across who does something I admire. Over time I built up an unbelievable list of possibilities. That lead to more experiments, and those experiments eventually lead me to Live Your Legend.

The tragedy is that with over 80% of people are not happy with the work they do. That means most of the people around us do anything but inspire possibility. So we have to take conscious steps to move away from them and towards those who support and encourage our big ideas. The best way to kick a bad habit, is to replace it with a new healthier one. Same with people.

I know that can be a big process. As always, the key is to start small – with one person:

  1. Think about the people in your life. Who do you look up to? Who do you admire, or maybe even envy (in a healthy, excited way)? We all have at least one person – a friend, colleague, family member. Or maybe a friend of a friend through someone else in your life.
  2. Pick one of those people and make a conscious effort this week to hang out with him or her – invite them to a lunch or a workout or just give them a call. Maybe even tell them your plan to transform your surroundings and that they’re high on the list. That can be the ultimate compliment.
  3. Can’t think of someone? First try harder. If that doesn’t work, then go to where the inspiring people hang out. Find an event in town, join a group on Meetup.com or check out craigslist and LYL Local. Every town, big or small, has a ton of options.
  4. And to start even smaller, watch a video or TED talk – the easiest way on the planet to surround yourself with inspiration!
  5. Reserve an hour this week to find that one person and spend a little time with them. See what happens.

It’s sometimes hard to believe how simple this stuff is, and how world-changing it can be.

I know it has been for me.

Remember, environment is everything. And it’s 100% in your control.

You don’t have to take a course to transform your surroundings, but if you’d like some specific guidance, I have a feeling our Connect with Anyone family could help. There’s never any pressure to buy anything we create, and please only consider joining if you really plan to use the course and participate in the community, and if it makes financial sense. But my guess is you already know the answer to all that.

So…are you proud of your average 5?


P.S. Whether you’re interested in the course or not, I think you’ll have fun checking out some of our member success stories. Also a pretty easy way to surround yourself with inspiration! They’re spread throughout this page.

Oh and congrats to Oksana and David for winning our second two scholarship spots! Oksana plans to build a school for gifted kids and David will be using the course to make the connections necessary to inspire more of the world through his gift for music. Well done. You two will fit in just fine ;).


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