How To TEDx: 5 Speaker Management Must-Dos

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Every speaker has a different route to the TEDx stage and organisers should adopt a management strategy that is tailored to each speaker.  Below are some of the most effective ways of influencing a speakers talk.  You’ll struggle to tick every box with each speaker so see achieving each one as a step towards a great talk.

How to TEDx, Hannah Witton

Find Out The Why 

Some want to influence or educate, others may do it simply because they really like you.  Whatever the reason, be sure to find out before you give them the go-ahead.  Each speaker needs to fit in with your theme and if you understand their why, you have created a management tool.  Be wary of the self-promoters; that’s not what TEDx is about.

Cut The Waffle

When you receive what the speaker believes to be the final draft, that is when you start editing.  Your job is simple: make the talk as short as possible!  Be brutal and challenge the speaker on anything that you think is noise.  Key questions to ask include:

What is the relevance?
Is it memorable/worth remembering?
Has the point already been made?
Does it strengthen/have no effect on/weaken the theme?  

Judge the successfulness of your cull on how many minutes you manage to loose from the talk (my record is 8!).  Will Stephen’s TEDx talk demonstrates why this is crucial.

Give Them The Fear

‘The Fear’ will help to ensure speakers put in the time and effort required to produce an amazing talk.  It will also get your more unreliable to stick to their deadlines.  Here are my top 5 ways of giving your speakers the fear:

1.  Compare them to your most prepared speaker: ‘I’ve received 4 video drafts from one of my speakers so far, so I need one in from you ASAP.
2.  Set achievable deadlines that create urgency and get commitment to them.
3.  Call a spade a spade: ‘I don’t think your talk is where it needs to be at the moment – the theme isn’t clear enough.’
4.  The 121 performance (see below).
5.  As a last resort, you can set an ultimatum.  ‘It’s got to a point now where if I don’t see a first draft by x date, I will have to pull in one of my reserve speakers instead.’

Make sure you strike a balance.  Overdo it and the speaker could quit, so pair fear with a plan that gives the speaker hope and confidence.  Preparing a good talk will always be difficult, but it should always feel achievable.

Watch Them One To One

By far the most effective way of preparing speakers for the big day. The set-up is simple: 1 empty room, you play the audience, they play the speaker.  While it will feel strange for both parties, it is the easiest way to create an uncomfortable environment for the speaker to perform in.  This has to be done face to face, so don’t make the mistake of thinking a Skype performance is a suitable substitute.  If you want to take it a step further, record the performance so they can watch themselves back.  You’re welcome!

Build Them Up

The speakers should have gone on an emotional rollercoaster in the weeks leading up to the event.  With all the talk ready, you need to make sure your speaker is too.  You’ll be the busiest person of the lot, but make time to tell them they are going to be brilliant, it’s a little thing that will go a long way.

This blog is part of the How to TEDx Series.  If you enjoyed it – please like it, share it and comment below!