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Preparing For My TEDx Audition

Last week Tuesday I auditioned for a spot on the speaker roster for the 2018 TEDxYYC event. It was an awesome and incredible process and everyone I auditioned with in my time slot was on point! They were excellent! And I realized when I watched them, that I was ready to audition, but so were they. Everyone brought a good game to the audition. This post is all about the steps that I took to get a spot to audition and how I prepared.

Step 1: Apply
I know this sounds shocking (sarcasm), but to be considered, you actually have to apply (and an idea worth spreading). So I applied. Every TEDx event is different and every event selects speakers differently. TEDxYYC has a very well run, efficient, and disciplined speaker selection process. I had to apply online through a rigorous question based application that asked the following questions (this is what I loosely remember):

  • How would you describe yourself
  • What is your ‘Idea Worth Spreading’?
  • Why do you want to spread this idea?
  • What publications have you been in?
  • What interviews have you given?
  • Where can we find out more about you online (FB, Linkedin, Twitter)
  • Have you been on any podcasts?

​I love and live by the mindset in this quote:

​”Good things come to those who wait, but only those things left behind who hustle” – Unknown

Because this is how I approach everything, I do everything I can to to ensure I position myself for success.

So I viewed my application only as step one in getting a shot to audition.

​Step 2: Reach Out
At the same time as I was preparing my application, I also started researching the speaker curator team on LinkedIn and started adding them to my network and reaching out to them to grab a coffee so I could speak to them about my idea.

The person I am when you meet me is the person I am. I believe in authenticity, I’m the same person at work and at home. And I believe that’s how you should show up to meetings with people that you want to work with. Because if they don’t like who you are up front, it’s not going to work in the future and you may as well figure that out right at the start.

So, after getting a of coffee date locked down and speaking with a few members of the speaker selection committee I showed up as me and told them what I was all about and what I wanted to speak about. It was a real and authentic discussion. They were great people and to their credit they also told me, in no uncertain terms, that my application would be measured against all others and I would get ZERO special treatment. Whether meeting them helped, I have no idea, but I’d like to think that it allowed me to provide some texture to who the person behind the application was.

​Step 3: Prepare
Once I was notified that I was lucky enough to get a spot to audition, I was notified that I would only have 5 minutes to talk about my idea either in the form of a speech or as a pitch. So I wrote my speech. Then I rewrote it 11 times more. I agonized over it. And tried to crunch it into 5 minutes. Then I practiced and practiced and practiced. I practiced till I got it into 5 minutes. I was ready.

Until audition time.

Step 4: Audition
On audition day I was slotted into the first time slots where 6 other participants were auditioning. There were 2 time slots to audition per evening for 3 evenings in a row. That means they likely had 36 people (of several hundred applicants) audition over 3 nights. Knowing this going in didn’t bother me, until I saw a few people audition before me. Everyone was good. I was ready, sure, but so was everyone else.

So, when it was my turn, I got up and auditioned. And I was good, until they started clapping me off. I only got 2/3rds of my speech completed in my audition. It was a good 2/3rds, but it was only 2/3rds. Then came 5 minutes of getting peppered with questions. I think I did well, but it almost feels like taking an exam and having no idea whether you got an “A” or an “F”.

Step 5: Say Thank You
I said thank you after my audition was done and I sent a follow up email with a thank you as well. If I had their addresses I would have sent thank you cards as well. Saying thank you is a big deal for me. They gave me the opportunity to share my idea and my story. Even to get the opportunity to audition was an honour. And that deserves a thank you.

Step 6: Wait
And now I’m waiting. Waiting to see if I made the cut. I’ll find out in a couple weeks.

So that’s what I did. Every TEDx is different in how they run their show, so this advice may not help you depending on how your region runs their events, but I think overall I did all the right things to get my shot and take it. Now we wait.