TEDx Events Explainer—Clearing Some Persistent Myths, Misunderstandings and Confusions

It is great that TEDx events are spreading across Bangladesh gradually. Specially the universities are picking it up, and organising their own events. It has significant potential of finding hidden gems in various communities, and nurturing local community leaderships.

While it grows, I think it is important to remind and clarify about some persistent myths, confusions and misunderstandings about TED, TEDx and what should be an ideal TEDx Talk. For many of you these are repetitions; but trust me, there are a big group of people who still have a vague or a completely wrong idea about TEDx talks.

What a TEDx Talk is NOT about…

1. It is not about you, i.e: “a TEDx talk is not about the speaker. It is about the idea.”

^^Read that again, repeat, repeat, and memorise that line. It is not about you, nobody cares much about who you are, your life, your story, nothing. It is about the idea you are talking about. And in 98.95% cases that idea should not include the story of your life or your organisation. If you thought that’s what TED talk is about, you got it all wrong.

Think about all the TED talks you remember, highly likely, you remember the ones that were done by someone unknown to you. You remember the talk itself, but probably you don’t remember the speaker, you remember the idea, the aha moments, the punch lines, the changes it brought to your world-view and your thought process, but not the speakers. If your talk is ABOUT YOU or your organisation—you are doing it wrong.

2. It is not about inspiration, neither about motivation.

Inspiration and motivation are two potential (but not required) byproducts of a TED talk, they are definitely not the target nor the purpose of a talk.

3. It may not be about entrepreneurship or leadership.

Those two are among the many subjects a TED talk can cover. You do not have to be a CEO or own a business to speak at a TEDx event. You can be an artist, philosopher, scientist, sailor, saint or anyone.

4. It is not about an idea that is still just in your head, and not validated already.

TEDx is not your platform for primary validation. You must already have to have some external validation before pitching an idea to TEDx, i.e: it probably have to be published in a journal already, it might have written about, talked about, work done and tested, validated by experts, data and fact checked by experts… This also means, you have to have some known and acceptable credibility to talk about the subject you are going to talk about.

What a TEDx event is NOT about

1. A TEDx event can not focus on one topic or subject.

There can not be an event entirely focusing on environment for example. It has to be always diverse, with a diverse set of speakers covering a wide range of topics.

2. A TEDx event is a completely voluntary activity.

Nobody at TEDx gets paid. TED does not pay the TEDx events for organising it, TEDx events do not pay TED for obtaining the license. The speakers can not be paid. The speakers also can not pay the organisers to be on stage. This means, there is zero monetary transactions between TED <> TEDx and TEDx <> Speakers.

3. Sponsors can not speak.

They can not go on stage at all. Organisers can not speak at an event they are organising, they can be the hosts, emcees, moderators on stage.

4. TED and TEDx are not the same.

A TED event generally takes place two three times a year, either in North America in spring and in Europe in summer, organised directly by the TED Conferences LLC. The TED Conferences are extremely difficult to get in, they come with a big price tag of ten thousand plus dollars for a ticket. While, TEDx events are locally, independently organised conferences under license from TED, following rules and guidelines set by TED with a maximum $100 price tag that goes to cover the cost of the event itself. Both TED and TEDx events are non-profit, the contents are open-source, while TEDx events are also fully voluntary initiatives.