How to get on TED Talks


I recently did a TED talk in Vancouver B.C. on the Gift of Dyslexia, and the question I get asked all the time is “how did you get the opportunity?”  It was actually my friend Marilyn Wilson who urged me to fill in the application and I clearly remember thinking “what would I talk about?”

As I sat there with my fingers poised over the keyboard I heard a voice inside my head say “Go Public about Dyslexia” Before I could second guess that little voice, my fingers ran across the keyboard clicking out a story about a book publisher who discovered she was dyslexic.  I was inspired by Danielle who told me “she was not good enough” to write a book and that she had always struggled with English at school.  I remember clearly the look on her face when I said “Danielle, you don’t have to be good at grammar and spelling to be an author, you just need to be a good story-teller”  She still objected, even though her passion for writing was obvious.  She wasn’t convinced until I looked her in the eyes and said “Heh, I struggled at school too with English and recently found out I am Dyslexic” That was the first time I had told anyone that I had been diagnosed with Dyslexia.  Her face lit up and I realized I had inspired that one woman to believe anything was possible.  Now here I was, filling out an application form with the crazy idea that I should tell the world on a very public stage so I could inspire more.

When I found out I had been short-listed from 260 applications, I started to question how I would be judged on the stage.  I realized if you don’t feel uncomfortable, vulnerable or challenged, it’s probably not TED material.  That is what makes TED really stand out, they seek to share the most inspiring stories that challenge the way we see something and are “Ideas worth spreading”.  It makes sense that if YOU feel vulnerable or fear judgement, that is going against the “normal” way everyone else see’s the world (or is told to judge the world), so it’s probably “an idea worth spreading”

My theory was proven right when I met the other speakers who had been selected.  Everyone was talking about a deeply personal idea that left them feeling vulnerable and in fear of judgement.  We all had a rocky journey ahead during rehearsals to let our true feelings shine and to overcome our fear of judgement.  My next blog is going to talk about how that manifested in the rigorous process of rehearsals and speaker coaching that TED puts you through, and how the power of a group of inspiring speakers can be the source of courage you need to get up on that stage.

Check out the TEDxGastownWomen Blog and Roundhouse Radio interview.

Listen now: