How Does the TEDxWinnipeg Committee Choose Our Speakers?

This guest post was written by the TEDxWinnipeg Chair, our very own Nicole Jensen!

As Chair of TEDxWinnipeg, I’m always approached by people who want to be on our stage who want to know: how do you choose your speakers?

My answer is always something along these lines: “some TEDx events curate and invite each and every speaker on their stage. Some TEDx events call for submissions and anyone can apply to participate. We do a bit of both.

Each year the lead team meets in late October to discuss the world news, topics that have captured interest and stories that are emerging and we look at what NEEDS to be on stage.

This debate can be heated but mostly it’s invigorating; viewpoints and suggestions get discussed to see why (or if) something needs a platform. From that, the speaker lead takes the suggestions, usually culled down to about 6, to share with his team.

When speaker applications open, both the lead and speaker teams look for or lean on people they know who may be able to cover the areas of interest.

Of course, we get a lot of applications that don’t cover the suggestions made, and I love this because there are some projects that would not have come to our attention if someone hadn’t mustered up the courage to apply!

I know it’s scary to apply and possibly bare your soul for the first time, and we appreciate and admire the effort because we know how hard it can be to put yourself out there.

However, that doesn’t mean we’re pushovers. When applications close, the speaker team gathers to review the applications. This is a finely-tuned process where we use a scoring card to rank the applicants based on areas like: the originality of the idea, timeliness and relevance to larger issues, how connected to Winnipeg the speaker is, and if the topic they’ve suggested is one of the themes identified by the committee.

When all the scores have been awarded, the team ensures the event has a balance between idea types (not all work related, or medical related, etc.), and that as many voices from our community are represented as possible.

Unfortunately this means we often have to decline  many great applications we’ve declined many people multiple times. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep applying: You never know when it’s your talk that will perfectly round out the line up!  

What Do I Need to Know to Apply to TEDxWinnipeg?

Here are some concrete pieces of advice I can give:

  1.  Don’t just submit a story. Give us an angle that makes it relatable to everyone.
  2. Have something concrete the audience can do that’s based on your idea. We want ideas that can have impact.

  3. Don’t apply if you can’t commit to the time it’ll take to develop your talk, rehearse it, and develop it for the TEDxWinnipeg stage. (I’ll be sharing our rehearsal and buddy process in another post, so stay tuned!)
  4. Make it about your idea. While we understand that you’re (rightfully) excited at the chance to be onstage, if you lead with how much you’ve wanted to be on the TEDx stage that tells us that you’re more interested in the spotlight than sharing your idea, which doesn’t result in a great experience for our audience.

And finally, applications open in December or January for the next year’s , generally held each June. If you want to apply to speak, keep your eye here on our blog, on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds for updates! You can also subscribe to our newsletter to get updates delivered right to your inbox!

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