17 Sep How to Become a Main Stage TED Speaker: Interview with TED Content Director Kelly Stoetzel
Stepping Onto the World’s Stage
Most of you probably already know my obsession with TED. Their 1,700+ free videos from the smartest, most talented, influential, creative and crazy people in the world provide more useful education and inspiration than just about anything else I’ve found on the Internet. To date their talks have been watched well over 1 billion times.
Over the past few decades the TED stage has become one of the most prestigious on the planet. Those who share their ideas in front of that crowd often immediately rocket to the top of their industry. And even their independently organized TEDx events can create a ripple of their own.
To date, by far the most powerful single thing I’ve done for our LYL movement and my career was to stand on the TEDx stage in San Francisco and give my talk on How to Find & Do Work You Love (that’s somehow gotten over 1.7 million views and ranks top 20 of over 40k TEDx talks). I could have given a thousand non-TED-related talks, and I doubt it would have had even close to the same impact. And to prepare – of course – I watched dozens of my favorite top talks.
If you’re looking to change the world (or simply have your idea heard), there’s probably no better venue than TED.
So today we’re going to learn how to get on the main stage – directly from the person who chooses TED’s speakers…
While most people have heard of TED, odds are you haven’t heard the name Kelly Stoetzel.
Neither had I, until I attended my first live TEDActive Conference for their 2014 30-year anniversary (#mindblown). She and her co-host Reeves were the emcees for the week.
So why is Kelly such a big deal? Well, she’s the Content Director at TED. This means is she and her team are directly in charge of finding, vetting, choosing and training the annual TED Conference main stage speakers. Talk about responsibility – and a dream career!
The best part is that she started out as a camp counselor (which she claims as her most important job), became an art gallery director and then moved to trial evidence presenter – all of which lead her to one of the coolest and most under-the-radar influential jobs in the world.
But as I got to know her, what piqued my interest even more was her passion for spreading ideas and possibility to kids. Her biggest passion project is TEDYouth, where over 100 youth events are held around the world on the same day to show kids what’s possible and help them find the career paths they are meant to pursue. Amen to that! (2014 TEDYouth is on November 15 – get involved or access the free live stream here.)
Needless to say, I can’t wait for you to watch this interview, where she covered the ins and outs of TED and TEDYouth.
In this video we’ll cover:
- How TED finds and chooses their main stage speakers
- The TED speaker training “un-formula”
- Top 80/20 tips for giving a TED-worthy talk and killing the nerves
- What not to do and how to avoid giving a talk that bombs
- How she connected with TED owner Chris Anderson
- How TEDYouth is changing the future of kids’ educations
- The importance of career “steps” and trying many different careers
- How Kelly handles being an introvert while hosting events for hundreds of the world’s most influential people
- One question to help identify the impact you want to have on the world
- And a lot more…
See below the video for the audio mp3 download and detailed time-stamped notes.
How to Become a Main Stage TED Speaker (and other really good speaking advice): Interview with Kelly Stoetzel, TED Content Director
Don’t see a video? Click here.
Download the audio version mp3 file here.
Detailed time-stamped interview notes:
- 1:56 Defining the TED Why
- 2:45 The TED & TEDx secret: The talks are only the tip of the iceberg
- 4:30 The curious career path that took Kelly from camp counselor to picking TED main stage speakers
- 4:45 Why “Camp Counselor” was Kelly’s most import career step leading her to TED
- 7:10 Her simple strategy for building a genuine connection (and getting a job) with Chris Anderson, the leader and owner of TED
- 8:50 Explains her all-powerful role of finding and choosing TED speakers
- 9:20 The fear that comes with choosing and inviting the right speakers
- 9:50 Her speaker-finding process to identify the gems among 10,000+ candidates
- 11:40 TED speaker training process and the “un-formula”
- 12:10 The initial vetting and interview process
- 12:45 Kelly’s first key to killing nerves and creating the environment for a world-changing talk
- 13:10 The importance of curating the right audience and its effect on the speaker
- 13:40 Top advice for dealing with stage fright, killing nerves and building confidence
- 15:00 The importance of the “Power Pose”
- 15:25 Nailing eye contact and how to not do it
- 15:55 A simple reframe to take the majority of the pressure off the speaker
- 16:20 The mindset for creating the most compelling slides and visuals
- 16:50 Every single thing you do as a speaker comes back to one cardinal rule
- 17:15 Learning from the ultimate talent search – 14 countries, 3 months, 293 speakers and what it taught TED about speaking
- 18:40 How Kelly handles being an introvert while hosting events for hundreds of people and avoiding panic attacks
- 19:15 Battling the speaker’s worst enemy
- 19:30 The key to being an engaging host or emcee
- 20:15 How to simply communicate incredibly complex topics
- 21:15 How TED decides the length of a talk
- 21:30 The 80/20 guidelines for presenting a TEDx talk that’s worthy of the TED main stage
- 22:15 Avoiding the risks of memorized talks and two methods for knowing your talk is prepared enough
- 24:00 Nailing your one idea and what makes an idea TED-worthy
- 25:20 What not to do and how to avoid giving a talk that bombs
- 26:15 The one word that makes speakers seem like they have a huge ego
- 27:00 The process for choosing the TEDx talks that make it onto TED.com
- 27:20 Tips for speakers to have the best chance of their talk ending up on TED
- 28:00 For TEDx organizers: 2 crucial tips for getting your talks on TED.com
- 29:40 The story behind TEDYouth – Kelly’s real passion and what it’s all about
- 31:10 How TEDYouth is visibly changing the future of education and dream career potential for kids
- 33:25 Advice for choosing the right career path and finding and doing what she loves
- 35:40 Why the underlying (and often hidden) skill set of a job is often more important than the job itself
- 36:00 Warren Buffett’s top career advice
- 36:25 How to support and become a part of TEDYouth
- 37:30 The pride of having a 10-year-old daughter as a 3-time TEDx organizer and host
- 38:20 Kelly’s rather odd TED speaking topic if she had to take the stage today
- 39:00 One question to help identify the impact you want to have on the world
So… what TED Talk would you give if you had the chance?
It’s a question I asked myself for years. And it eventually led right here.
Give it some thought and tell us in the comments. And if you have speaking questions or advice, please share those as well!
A huge thanks to Kelly and the team at TED for the impact you’re having! I’m so grateful.
And be sure to check out TEDYouth, apply for a free ticket, and see how you can get involved either with their main event in New York or the 100+ around the world. All the talks will also be live streamed for free.
Here’s to taking the stage that can change everything…
P.S. Keep an eye out for our annual Start a Blog Challenge coming soon too. Without a blog, LYL wouldn’t exist, and I certainly never would have been asked to speak at TEDx. Get ready for some fun. 🙂
SimranPosted at 12:32h, 17 September
As soon as I saw TED in the title, I was jumping, I’m just as obsessed with TED and I absolutely love TED Youth for what it’s doing towards kid’s education. Thank you so much for sharing this video and all these tips. Public speaking or any kind of speaking about my thoughts and ideas has always been the hardest things to overcome for me. Especially the fear that goes along with expressing your thoughts and ideals to the world. So this talk is everything and more I was hoping for. Thanks a lot.
If I ever had the opportunity of speaking at TED, it would be about my hopes for a revolution in the system of education today. When you think about it, education is where it all begins. From the moment we are born, a path is already laid out for us- a path of school-college-job-security-(unhappiness)-retirement. It’s almost like saying the only reason we are born is to go to school and get a job. I choose to believe otherwise and I hope to change that one day, to make sure that everyone has the choice to make their own path…and as you say at LYL… change the world by doing work they love.
So excited for the blog challenge! It’s exactly what I need right now.
P.S- just wanted to say Thank You So Much Scott! For LYL, for all the free tools you provide, and for everything you do. But mostly, thank you for giving me the courage to believe in my dreams and desires. To believe in the possibility that it all might just happen for me. 🙂 You are one of my most inspirational models. 🙂
KellyPosted at 07:03h, 20 September
Thank you so much for your kind words, Simran. And you’re right — we need a revolution in education. I hope you start it!
MandiePosted at 12:32h, 17 September
Thanks, Scott & Kelly!
As someone who listens to TED Talks whenever I’m mulling over something (and I’m an excellent muller), I’ve been inspired by so many. It was really fun to meet Kelly & hear her story about what brought her to where she is now.
Even though I’m not a parent, I think the TEDYouth movement sounds amazing. I just think of how different my life had been if I’d discovered my passion at age 10 instead of 33. Although, there have been a lot of wonderful & interesting moments that led me to discover it, which I’m grateful for.
What an incredible & rewarding job – it’s easy to see why she’s so passionate about what she does. I bet she’s also seen some funny moments – I’d like to see a TEDBlooper Reel. 😉
KellyPosted at 07:05h, 20 September
Thanks, Mandie! Oh I just love TEDYouth. And, yes, I think we could make quite a blooper reel. 🙂
Dave HughesPosted at 13:04h, 17 September
Thanks so much for posting this interview. Being on a TED or TEDx stage one day is one of my biggest goals. I’m still searching for a topic that’s fresh and creative enough.
> And if you have speaking questions or advice, please share those as well!
Since you asked, I offer free weekly presentation tips via email subscription. You can sign up at http://presentingforexcellence.com/free-weekly-tips/.
I’m very much a Garr Reynolds/Nancy Duarte disciple (storytelling, no bullets, pictures, etc.), so my weekly tips should be useful to anyone who aspires to be a TED speaker or wants to get better at sharing their ideas in front of people.
I hope this helps the LYL community!
Thanks again for all you do!
KellyPosted at 07:07h, 20 September
Hi Dave. Drop me a line when you’ve got that topic idea!
Talia AfoaPosted at 13:49h, 17 September
Thanks so much for sending this video! I too am obsessed with TED.
If I could give a TED talk it would be about how differently we would lead our lives if we kept mortality in the forefront of our minds.
Title: Living with the Human Condition
Mortality as a Motivator
KellyPosted at 07:10h, 20 September
Thanks, Talia. Our mortality is interesting and difficult to think about, isn’t it?
Mike GoncalvesPosted at 18:33h, 17 September
What an awesome post and interview Scott, thanks! I’m a huge fan of TED Talks. I seriously think I listen to one about once a day. I must have seen yours now over a dozen times, just never gets old. Giving my own TED Talk at some point is something that is definitely on my list of things to do, no question.
My talk would be about how incredible people, all people are and how we need to know that, believe that, and believe in not just ourselves, but in others as well and all that is possible when when we believe not just in ourselves, but in others as well. Individually we’ll got far, but together we’ll go further.
Thanks for all you do and create, it’s awesome and inspiring. Cheers!
KellyPosted at 07:11h, 20 September
Hi Mike. Love your optimism!!
KristaPosted at 20:19h, 17 September
As always, incredible and inspiring! Loved watching both you and Kelly light up while speaking about your passions. I’m going to see if there is a TED Youth event here in Sydney…I may even suggest it at my kids schools…How much fun could that be?
You asked what we would talk about if given a chance, well something I have been noticing a great deal lately with clients and friends, even strangers I meet, is that they don’t see or feel that they what it takes to do what they want to do. That they have to follow the rest of the sheep in the heard to get through life, rather than LIVE life. When we are children we believe that we can conquer the world…we can save the whales, put out fires, stop wars, cure cancer and even set up a base on Mars. At some point a switch flips in most of us and we start walking the path of can’t, won’t and not me. We start being told by those around us, and society, our perimeters and as we move along in life we start to forget that we are the ones that hold the key…we are the ones that have the control to accept or reject was is placed upon us. I think of it as the “Cyborg Effect”, (yes the ones from Star Trek) the masses all think alike, walk alike and even talk alike. We begin to loose our individuality…our light, the spark that makes you, YOU. I would show the audience where their key was to remove them from the prison that was created to keep them in the box and show them how to expand into the life that they dream of living. It’s a tall order but the power of giving a person permission to be who they want to be is a tremendous gift.
That is what I’d talk about. Thank you for being you and inspiring others to do what moves them.
SimranPosted at 10:21h, 18 September
“I would show the audience where their key was to remove them from the prison that was created to keep them in the box and show them how to expand into the life that they dream of living. It’s a tall order but the power of giving a person permission to be who they want to be is a tremendous gift. ”
It is a tall order and would indeed be a tremendous gift Krista. Reading these lines I couldn’t help but reply, because I identify so much with what you have written. If we all carried our childhood dreams and aspirations into adulthood, the world be a much happier place. I sincerely hope I can watch you give a TED talk on this topic one day. Cheers!
KellyPosted at 07:17h, 20 September
Hi Krista. There’s an amazing TEDx team in Sydney. You may already know that. But I’m not sure whether they (the ones I know, anyway) do anything specifically with youth or not. I did have the (amazing!) chance to attend TEDxSydney a couple of years ago, and it was great to see quite a few young people in the audience there.
Lots of people are organizing TEDx events in schools, and I just love to see that because kids can get involved in so many different ways — as speakers, emcees, production, cameras, stage design, graphic design and more. A great thing to suggest to your kids’ schools!
Clare HeadlandPosted at 21:35h, 19 September
I have transitioned from male to female over the past three years, while working at a major hospital in Melbourne, Australia.
Before deciding to make the change, I spent 50 years battling depression, sadness and suicidal wishes. I prayed for a heart attack, so I could escape from my life without the shame of killing myself.
Now I live full time as Clare, and I have found the most amazing happiness, peace and self confidence. I am living the dream of thousands and thousands of people, and I would love to speak at TED and tell many people that it’s ok for people to take the risk and become their authentic happy self.
Speaking to audiences is one of my favourite things to do, and I am pretty good at engaging with people.
KellyPosted at 07:22h, 20 September
Hi Clare. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it is to live as someone you’re not. It’s wonderful to hear you’re on the other side of that now! Have you seen the talk by Geena Rocero from this year’s TED? She has so many wonderful stories now of how sharing her own experience has helped others. http://on.ted.com/j0Ti7
KeeleyPosted at 17:15h, 20 September
Thank you Scott and Kelly for this! I am a huge fan of TED. Actually, TED is how I found Scott. His talk is still one of my all time favs.
It is my dream to speak at TED some day. I live near West Chester, PA, and I am hoping to apply to speak at their TED program next spring. I missed the deadline last year.
I definitely have my topic in mind. I came to work in the wellness industry after turning to yoga and meditation to get me through some rough patches. I know the value of wellness practices and want to share that with the world. I am even working on a catchy title: You are in a World of Trouble if All You Got is Faith!
Hope to meet you two someday. Cheers!
KellyPosted at 22:34h, 21 September
Hi Keeley. You live in West Chester? Even though I work in the NY office of TED, I live near Phoenixville, PA. In fact, I’m hosting TEDxPhoenixville next weekend (organized locally, and not by me … but by a wonderful team). You should come! And be sure to say hello if you do. http://tedxphoenixville.com/
KeeleyPosted at 10:21h, 23 September
Kelly, I went on to purchase tix for Saturday, but it seems I missed the deadline by one day. I will snoop around and see if I have any friends with extra tickets. If not, hope to connect with you another time.
KellyPosted at 07:38h, 26 September
Keeley, I bet you can pick up a last-minute ticket at the theater tomorrow. Pretty sure they’ve done that in the past. You might call them and ask. Hope to meet you there!
KeeleyPosted at 13:05h, 22 September
It is such a small world! I know Phoenixville very well. Almost moved there in the spring. I would definitely love to connect. I will try and make it to TEDxPhoenixville next weekend. If I can’t, I hope we can find a way to connect at another time since we are so close.
Look forward to meeting you!
Naveen KulkarniPosted at 23:01h, 22 September
Thanks for this powerful and educating post (and video).
If I have ever had a chance to give a TED talk, I would love to speak about ‘how mindset change can bring changes to the way we live’.
It can be about work , relations and other important aspects of our lives.
I personally have high respect to TED talks and have watched several amazing episodes.
How to Become a Main Stage TED Speaker: Interview with TED Content Director Kelly Stoetzel - MentorMosaic.comPosted at 12:50h, 18 December
[…] read the article and watch the interview here […]
Donna-Leigh PerfectPosted at 21:28h, 02 February
Hi Kelly & Scott, Thank you so much for such an inspiring and practical video on preparing and presenting a Ted Talk. I loved it. 🙂
I have just recently sent in a personal speaker nomination application to speak on the Ted Stage. I am so incredibly excited at the prospect to tell my story and inspire people everywhere to Overcome Adversity and Live Their Dreams. My story is of my traumatic childhood and bullying experiences and how I overcame those experiences. How my life has now taken an amazing journey to perform on stages as a children’s entertainer along side my incredibly talented comedian/entertainer husband Michael Bennett. Together we build resilience and confidence in children with Fun, Magic, Balloon Artistry and thought provoking messages to empower them to Stand Up To Bullying in a positive and powerful way. The Dream Guards. Kelly can you please advise me how I can check the progress of my application? At what point my script will be presented for assessment? Will I be advised if I have been accepted or invited to talk? Thank you so much. Donna Perfect