How to Bring Your Idea to the TEDxTucson Stage

We’re looking for ideas, not speakers. Specifically, we are looking for: never-before-seen presentations, from people who have changed the world in terms of Technology, Entertainment, or Design (T.E.D.). We also consider talks from entrepreneurs who have built large companies.

Our audience is not interested in: advice or “coaching” about how to live differently, causes or charities looking for support, professional or semi-pro “public speakers” who have given the same talk many times, or personal observations from an individual who is not famous. Our audience attends to meet and learn directly from inventors and designers and creators.

Speaker Criteria to be considered:

  • The strength and originality of your idea.
  • Your passion for your idea.
  • How well your idea fits into the theme for the TEDx event or Salon.
  • Your presentation skills including poise, preparation, energy and confidence.
  • Your level of commitment. TEDx speakers represent not only the best ideas but the most polished presentation.
  • Your willingness to be coached.

For professional speakers:

  • TED is not the place for you to showcase your speech
  • Take one aspect of what you teach and expand on it
  • Use TED to try an innovative and new approach to your subject
  • Bring an idea that is outside of your area of expertise

Conference Theme

Our TEDxTucson Conferences have themes – just like big TED. The theme for our 2018 conference is “Connect the Dots.”

When we look at the world, and try to connect what is happening now to what happened in the past, do we gain understanding?

Helpful preparation and presentation hints

From Doug Stevenson, TEDxTucson’s speakers coach:

  • My best advice is to script your speech in a conversational manner. Talk and transcribe. That will help you clarify what you intend to say and make lots of choices.
  • Then, rehearse out loud and on your feet many times with a stopwatch. Walk and talk. Movement helps memorization. The goal is not to be 100% memorized, but to be so comfortable with the language and flow that when you come to the audition, you “know that you know” your speech.
  • Ten minutes goes by very fast. There is no room for ad-libbing and going off script. If you go over your ten minutes, that won’t help your case.
  • Don’t use slides unless you cannot explain your ideas without them. Rehearse with your slides. The less text the better. Don’t try and do too much. Graphics and visuals to support your idea are welcome.

If you are chosen to speak at a future TEDxTucson event, you will be assigned a speaking coach. If you are not chosen for this year, you may be chosen for another event in the future. There are a limited number of speaking slots for each TEDxTucson event and lots of qualified people who want to speak on the TEDxTucson stage.

Types of TEDx Talks

There are seven different types of talks that you might want to use as the basis of your own. Of course, you want your talk to be more than just a copy of someone else’s but watching other TEDx talks is a good place to start. Take a look at the types of talks below. Do any seem like a good fit for your idea?

The big idea

The talks that make one or two very strong points, and it’s important. Examples: Bryan Stevenson, Onora O’Neill, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The tech demo

An onstage look at some clever new invention that the speaker was a part of creating. Examples: Tan Le, Markus Fischer, Raffaello D’Andrea

The performance

Music, dance, magic, puppetry, or some other performance that will captivate your audience. Examples: Usman Riaz + Preston Reed, Arthur Benjamin, Pilobolus

The artist’s statement

In these talks, artists showcase their art and explain the meaning and process behind what they create. Examples:

Raghava KK

Aparna Rao

The ‘dazzle with wonder’

These talks are mainly about the amazement of science and discovery. Examples: Yoav Medan

Marcus Byrne

Janna Levi

The small idea

These talks are not about one big, world-changing idea, but instead a very engaging take on an interesting topic. Examples:

Mary Roach

Joe Smith

Charlie Todd

The ‘issue’ talk

These talks expose your audience to an issue that they may not otherwise know much about. Examples:

Rodrigo Canales 

Rose George

A final Note from Mary Reed, our Organizer

As a TEDx team organizer, I am often asked how speakers a selected for the “Big TED” stage. One way is to be a TEDx speaker. In fact, 17 of the TED speakers from last month’s TED Conference were first TEDx speakers!

TEDx speakers that made it to the 2017 TED stage:

  • Tom Gruber TEDxGunnHighSchool(2015), TEDxMountainViewHighSchool(2016)
  • Anna Rosling Rônnlund- TEDxStockholm(2015), TEDxRiga(2015)
  • Anne Madden- TEDxCharlotte(2016)
  • Gabriela Gonzalez – TEDxCordoba(2016)
  • Katherine Freese- TEDxVienna(2016)
  • Anil Seth – TEDxSouthhampton(2016)
  • Radhika Nagpal- TEDxBermuda(2016)
  • Devita Davison- TEDxDetroit(2014), TEDxBrum (2016)
  • Rutger Bregman- TEDxMaastricht(2014)
  • Robin Hanson- TEDxTallinn(2013), TEDxLimassol(2014), TEDxImperialCollege(2016)
  • Grace Kim- TEDxUtica(2015)
  • Jim Yong Kim – TEDxWBG(2014)
  • Daane Roosegarde- spoke at 6 events, the first was at TEDxRotterdam(2010), the most recentwas TEDxGateway(2016)
  • Tomas Saraceno- TEDxBerlin(2013)
  • David Titley – TEDxPentagon(2011)
  • David Whyte- TEDxPugetSound(2011)
  • Guy Winch- TEDxLinnausUniversity(2014) on

The interplay and cross-pollination between the TEDx and TEDstages are getting stronger than ever.


8 thoughts on “How to Bring Your Idea to the TEDxTucson Stage”

  1. I just found out about this. I see the date is past, but I wonder if I might still be considered.

    1. Mary Reed says:


      We closed Speaker Applications on June 30th. You are welcome to join us to listen to Auditions on August 4th and 5th. Here is the link –


    2. Mary Reed says:


      We have opened the 2019 TEDxTucson Conference Speaker Applications early. Here is the link


      Mary Reed

  2. I was at the August 5 event and it was very exciting. When will applications for the next event be available?

    1. Mary Reed says:

      We open Speaker Applications in the Spring. The best way to keep up with us is by joining our mailing list. Here is the link

      Oh, and you can get tickets to our next Speaker Auditions here:

      Warm regards,

    2. Mary Reed says:


      We have opened the 2019 TEDxTucson Speaker Applications early. Here is the link


      Mary Reed

  3. As am Advocate for Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia, Finding a niche market, and starting a website, now business based around that, I am looking forward to the next round of Auditions. I will also be on the 2019 Fibro Cruse as a featured speaker.

    1. Mary Reed says:


      We have opened the TEDxTucson Speaker Applications early. Here is the link


      Mary Reed

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