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The step-by-step system to realize your dream of a TED talk from idea to audition

The world is waiting for your message...
What’s holding you back from getting your ideas worth spreading out to the right people?

Are you ready to take that next step that leads to the TED stage?


You’ve hit a point in your business or your professional career where you have your message, people ask you to share more, and you practice what you preach. You’re starting to get ahead, you’ve figured some things out.

But something’s missing. You’re not there yet.

You’re missing that elusive next step that would really help you make your mark.

You might see it as a goal you’re heading towards. Or it might be just a faint dream somewhere in the distance. Either way...

You know that speaking at TED or TEDx can help you build your platform, be seen as an expert, and make a difference in people’s lives...

But you’re stuck. You might be thinking:

  • Who am I to be giving a TED talk? There are so many others who are more qualified. I’m not an expert!
  • Is my idea TED worthy? Someone else has already said what I know.
  • Oh, I could never do it. I’m not talented ­- I wasn’t born a speaker.
  • Am I ready to do this? I don’t have the guts to speak on stage.
  • I’d like to speak on a TED stage, but I don’t even know what I’d talk about!
  • Do I even have a TED­worthy idea in me?
  • And even if I did... how do I get there? I don't even know where to start!

Whatever your doubts are right now, I ask that you put them aside for just two minutes, and let me ask you another question.


Imagine, just for a moment, that six months from now, you’re standing in the middle of the red circle, and you’ve just finished your first TED talk. There’s a moment of silence, and then… thunderous applause. And you just stand there, taking it all in, knowing in your body, heart and soul that this is it - you’ve done it!

And as you come off that TED stage, the applause slowly fading, there’s the people lining up, waiting for you. Wanting to exchange business cards. Asking for your advice. Wanting to just shake your hand. Or thanking you with a big smile and tears rolling down their cheek - thanking you for changing their lives.

Now I want you to stay with that for a moment. How does that feel? The rush, the adrenaline, the knowing that you were able to connect, engage, to move your audience to action, to make change in minds and hearts.

And after you get home, the rush is gone, and you slowly get back to your normal life. First it feels like nothing’s changed… but then the email notifications start popping up on your laptop. You’re getting invited to speak at the big events, the ones with the audiences you know will embrace your ideas. It was true what they said - a TED talk really is a stepping stone. Soon, you’re fully booked with clients and appointments, you’re actually getting paid for your work (finally!), but most importantly - you can finally feel you are making a difference in the world.

Does that sound too good to be true? It’s not. Like many people I know, I’ve gone through this exact same journey.

If there’s one thing all these fake speaking gurus have in common: the deceit of wishful thinking. “You are either born to speak or not”, they say, “you either have the talent or not”. But even if they do convince you that you’re a “chosen one”, their system of how to become a TED speaker is ultimately up to how the fates roll the dice that morning. And that is because those gurus have never walked the walk. They may have been to TED but they might not have faintest clue as to how to teach what you have to do ­ or they may just not have been to TED at all.

In reality, getting a gig at TED does take work. There’s no magic pill. You do need to learn new skills and you do need to practice. But at the same time, there are many ways to both speed up the process and to make the whole thing efficient. And if you do it right, it will be a lot of fun.

I’ll be honest with you. You can go alone, trial­-and­-error style, and choose your own paths like I did when I first started out. But here’s the thing: with 18 years under my belt I know what has worked for not only me and the 107 people I’ve coached to be confident TED speakers who change lives with their talks. You can take the slow route and get to where I am today in same time I did, but you might also find that years of experimenting with what works and what doesn’t might not be worth your time.

But if you’re at the point in your life when you know that life­-changing TED talk is an arm reach away and you’re eager to get there NOW, if you want to spare yourself the failures and keep your momentum going, you will do yourself the biggest favour by taking the fast road, and stepping on that red dot not in a matter of years, but a matter of months.

Hi. I’m Soness Stevens.

 

As the Head Speaker Coach for TEDxFukuoka, TEDxKyoto, TEDxWasedaU and TEDxKumamoto, I’m in charge of making sure that our speakers connect, engage and move audiences. Plus, since I’ve been on the team for years, I have an in-depth knowledge about how we discover speakers and what we look for in their TED application.

So the real reason I know what happens if you put your mind and soul into getting to the TED stage is that I’ve coached over 107 TED & TEDx speakers around the world. 

But I’m not just a coach. I’ve been working as a professional speaker for 17 years, publishing two books on presentation skills and running a weekly communications TV show that you might have seen on NHK or FOX TV.

I’ve also gone through writing, preparing and performing my own TED & TEDx talks 3 times - so I know exactly what it’s like to feel the highs and lows of the process from the adrenaline-fueled excitement of being selected, through the paralysis of having been selected, the seemingly endless cycle of editing and rehearsing, to the last-minute panic before you finally step onto the stage

Rick Clemons, Author, podcaster & TEDx speaker

I just want to say that this course has inspired me, challenged me, caused me to go deep, and to tap into what i knew to be true. I need to be speaking and making it my life work. Step­by­step the content and Sonesses guiding hand have helped me gain clarity, confidence, and kept me committed to actually submitting my first TEDx Application. Would I have gotten there without this course? Probably, but not near as quickly nor with as much clarity and conviction. I'm now on the hunt for speaking engagements and enjoying the process. I don't just believe I will get speaking and engagements because of this course and Soness, I know and am manifesting that intention...NOW!

 

Just landed my first big paying gig. October 19, High School, 2500 students, College preparedness day, two talks, back to back, 1250 students each talk, + one workshop. Here we go! Blessed! Thank God I got a TEDx under my belt.
— Rick Clemons

If you’re like me, you’ve been told a number of things about why getting on a TED stage and delivering a talk that changes lives is not possible.

These myths have become so widespread that a lot of people take them for granted,  even though they couldn’t be farther from the truth. If you don’t take them at face value, you’re already past the first blocks that prevent you from embarking on this journey.

Myth #1. "I have to be a great performer to do a TED talk."

Most speaker coaches will tell you that speaking is a performance. They are wrong.

In practice, speakers that are trained to focus on performance develop what I call “lecture mode”. The unconscious signal this performance style sends to the audience is “I am an expert, so I’m going to tell you what you should do”. This actually creates a disconnect between speaker and audience that is very tough to mend. And at the end of the day, this distance will stop you from getting the invitation to speak at TEDx.

So what can you do instead? Simple. Speaking that connects starts with listening, because at the end of the day, listening is compassion. Once you’ve listened deeply, then you can speak with compassion. That is how you can be present, connect with any audience.

Myth #2. “But you have to be chosen to speak at TED.”

A lot of people want to wait for their magical moment when they get chosen to speak at TED. But you know what? The reality is that the magic owl with the enchanted invitation letter is not coming.

The only way to get a TEDx talk is to work on getting a TEDx talk. You can either become part of the community - like I did so many years ago - or seek out events that you want to speak at, and there are specific methods for both approaches. You have to be proactive - you can’t just apply to one event and hope to get in. You might have to apply to five, ten or fifteen events until you get a catch. It’s like in acting - you get one out of ten auditions, but if you don’t go to ten auditions, you don’t find The One.

That said, there are many ways that you can prepare to maximize your chances. Before a recent TEDx event in Japan, a speaker dropped out in the last minute. In a matter of hours, the spot went to my student Rick. But that didn’t happen by accident. Rick had already perfected his audition video using the techniques I taught him, and he also had 8 weeks of preparation, so by the time the call came, he was prepared - he could jump at any opportunity at a TEDx talk. If he hadn’t done those steps, he would not have been able to speak at TEDx in Japan.

That is the difference. If you want to do it, you have to pursue it.

Myth #3. “I wasn’t born with the skills to be a good speaker.”

Prepare for a twist. This myth is true, but not in the way you might think. Because as it turns out, no one is born with the skills necessary to be a speaker.

If you have just one takeaway from this page, let it be this: Speakers aren’t born, they’re trained. Things like confidence, stage presence or “natural” charisma that other speaker coaches will tell you you should have or stop trying? These are all skills that you can learn, not abilities you are either born with or not.

Speaking is something that everyone can master. No matter if you choose to go it alone and create your own path, or to seek help and get there faster with tried and tested methods. I know this because I’ve seen many dozens of self-professed “non-speakers” turn into speakers with practice. I have also developed simple techniques to speed up the process of becoming a great speaker.

And the thing I mentioned earlier about being able to listen to connect with an audience? Listening is also a skill that you can hone with practice.

Myth #4. “There’s only one way to do a TED talk.”

A lot of people make the mistake of telling you that the most viral TED talks are the ones to emulate. But the truth is that those TED talks have become viral because their message came from the uniqueness of who gave those talks. The spark, the personal magic that you put into your talk cannot be replicated.

That said, there are a number of styles or ‘formats’ that TEDx talks can take, like The How-To, The Journey, The Entertaining Creative, The Industry Influencer or The Quintessential. You can use these or other tried and true formats, but only as a jumping off point - then you have to take the next step and make the talk your own as you progress on your speaking journey. 

Myth #5. “I’m an introvert so I’ve been told I shouldn’t even try. I’ll never be able to speak on stage.”

There’s a lot of myths about what introverts can and cannot do, and speaking is one of the big ones. But if you set aside the stereotypes for one moment, you’ll see that many of the most viewed TED talks were done by introverts - Susan Caine, Bill Gates...actually we observed that 90% of TED speakers are introverts! And you know what? I am an introvert and most of my students have been, too.

Here is something about introverts that is true - introverts can take the time to really focus and hone their skills, including their speaking skills. What you need to stand and perform on a TEDx stage are all ones you can learn whether you are an introvert or an extrovert.

Myth #6. “I will never have enough time to master speaking.”

It’s often said that it takes ten thousand hours to master a skill. And it’s true that if you’ve already spent thousands of hours on mastering your field of expertise, you won’t want to spend an equal amount of time learning how to talk about it.

But here’s the thing. You don’t actually need to spend ten thousand hours on stage to be a great speaker. There are many ways to accelerate the learning process, including visualisation and so-called re-creation techniques.

Some of these techniques I’ve learned and know to work, while other methods I’ve devised myself based on my own 10,000-hour experience with speaking on stage. I know the entire process inside-out, and that’s exactly how I know how anyone can build up their speaking expertise fast, but without cutting corners.

Which brings us to the final myth.

Myth #7. “Everything has been said before. I have nothing new to say.”

People tend to hang up on this a lot, and I can see why. If you just look at the wealth of speakers, teachers, researchers and entrepreneurs that have done TEDx talks, you can feel so overwhelmed by the amount of topics that have been covered.

But at the end of the day, it’s not the topic of what you say that determines whether you have a right to say it. I always like to reframe this question by asking: “What do you bring to the table in this topic? What is your unique angle? What’s your special sauce? Who’s your specific audience?”

Even if you don’t know the answer to these questions yet, it many times only takes a bit of digging to find what can make your talks stand out. Your topic combined with your unique angle and style will always create something that has never been done before.

If there’s one thing all these fake speaking gurus have in common, it’s the deceit of wishful thinking. “You are either born to speak or not”, they say, “you either have the talent or not”. But even if they do convince you that you’re a “chosen one”, their system of how to become a TED speaker is ultimately up to how the fates roll the dice that morning. And that is because those gurus have never walked the walk. They may have been to TED but they might not have faintest clue as to how to teach what you have to do - or they may just not have been to TED at all.

In reality, getting a gig at TED does take work. There’s no magic pill. You do need to learn new skills and you do need to practice. But at the same time, there are many ways to both speed up the process and to make the whole thing efficient. And if you do it right, it will be a lot of fun.

I’ll be honest with you. You can go alone, trial-and-error style, and choose your own paths like I did when I first started out. But here’s the thing: with 5 TED coaching years under my belt, I know what has worked, and not only for myself, but the 108 people who I’ve coached to be confident TED speakers who change lives with their talks. You can take the slow route and get to where I am today in same time I did, but you might also find that years of experimenting with what works and what doesn’t might not be worth your time.

But if you’re at the point in your life when you know that life-changing TED talk is an arm reach away and you’re eager to get there NOW, if you want to spare yourself the failures and keep your momentum going, you will do yourself the biggest favour if you take the fast road and step on that red dot not in a matter of years, but a matter of months.

Introducing Step on the Red Dot

Step On The Red Dot is a 6­ week, multimedia online training program that takes you through the entire speaking process. With the step-by-step training, you’ll be able to craft your talk from idea, through creation, to stepping on the stage to deliver your talk. Whether you’re creating talks for the stage or online, this training will help you make all your talks TED-worthy.

But it’s not just for TED: you will get access to strategies to get you speaking ASAP so you can become the go-to expert in your field, a pioneer who leads a movement.

Each week, Step On The Red Dot gives you a new set of videos that combine theory with action, so you can start implementing what you’ve learnt right away. Plus, you’ll have access to a tailored mastermind team AND weekly group coaching calls to get booked solid all the way along your speaking journey. 

Unlike other presentation skills programs that tell you that speaking is a performance and focus all training on learning to perform, this program hones in on the real deal:

  • Form authentic connections with your audience
  • Be true to yourself when you’re on stage
  • Turn fears and shyness into confidence
  • Move your audience so they go on to share the unique message that only you can deliver

The best part? You don't need to be an actor, performer or a trained speaker to join this program. You don’t have to learn to be someone else. You can be you. In fact, I'm going to show you how to get the confidence to connect with your audience while staying true to yourself.

Finally, in Step On The Red Dot you’ll learn how to be prepared when you are in fact asked to speak at a TED event. I’ve met too many people who scrambled at the last minute, and had to turn down the opportunity because they were not prepared. Speaking in front of a big audience can be frightening - speaking at TED can be even more. So in this program, you can learn how to break this mental block so you don’t have to miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.

But of course the main question is: how do you get to TED? It’s a long road, right? Well, I’ll show you the short route to apply to TED so it doesn’t take years, but months. So if you’ve ever daydreamed of speaking at TED someday, maybe even this year, this course is for you.


Here’s exactly what you’ll learn in each module:


+ MODULE 1: FIND YOUR MESSAGE THAT CONNECTS

How to find your Idea Worth SpreadingI’ll help you discover your idea, make it clear, concise and replicable. Together, we’ll dig deep to find your heart’s message. I’ll also share with you the 7 Questions that help you shape your idea to its full potential.

"These 7 Questions for an Idea Worth Spreading is GOLDEN!" - Kyle Wood

How to quiet the little voice in your head. You know, the one that says “Who do you think you are? You’re not expert enough. You aren’t ready for TED.” I’ll share with you the exact techniques I use to quiet that voice. Most coaches tell you to shut it up, but you can actually employ that voice at the right time and make it work for you! With these tricks alone you can save thousands of dollars in both therapy and time spent on your talk.

How to Always Be Speaking. While crafting your message, speak on as many platforms as possible: stage, webinars, podcasts, local meetups, everywhere! I’ll show you how speaking wherever you can gives you great experience in connecting with people listening to you.

Why the “Why” Isn’t Enough. Simon Sinek’s TED talk “Start with Why” is just the start. From this video you’ll learn a simple but profound Japanese technique called Kokorozashi or “Heart’s Mission” that you can use to dig deep and discover your true Why behind your talk, your career, and your mission.

"This helped me work out my Idea Worth Spreading. Even when I was applying for this course, I didn't feel like I had a strong idea about what I want to talk about. Now I do!" - Ada Wells

Play to create your central idea. We’ll use creative and playful techniques to make creating your talk’s core statement easy and fun.

How to make your talk relevant to your audience. Here’s the trick: your talk is never really about you - even when you do talk about yourself. Here you’ll learn how you can design any talk with your audience in mind.

+ MODULE 2: PLAN YOUR APPLICATION LIKE A PRO

How to navigate the Time Maze. Timelines for TED and TEDx applications are hugely different from event to event. A TED event can let a speaker know 1 year to at least 6 months beforehand, while a TEDx event may have selected their speaker 1 week in advance - and preparing in a timeframe like that is an uphill battle. But if you following my timelines, you will be two months ahead of everyone else, saving yourself time and saving yourself from panic.

How to choose between applying, I will personally help you decide which is the best route for you to take depending on your circumstances.

How to find the best events to get selected as a speaker - surprisingly, it’s probably NOT where you thought.

What to fill in the application blanks? Your teammates & I will give you feedback to make sure your application document is clear & concise. Plus, I’ll personally make sure it’s exactly what that event curator looks for in their speakers.

How to relate to your event’s theme. I’ll show you how you can shift your talk with one phrase to speak to the current theme without having to scrap your whole concept.

+ MODULE 3: CRAFT THE PERFECT AUDITION

How to collect the vital elements for your talk - You’ll learn how to make sure your talk is engaging, you have the data to support it, and you have the elements in place to have your audience take action.

I’ll show you the 4-MAP technique to not only get those ideas going but to place them in a coherent structure.

How to use story- - Whether it’s personal stories or case studies, they are vital in supporting your central idea. I’ll also share how to go beyond the Hero’s Journey (so overused!).

How to find your unique voice - some people try hiring a copywriter to write their talk for them. It always breaks apart, because most copywriters will have no idea what your true voice is like - how could they, if you don’t know either? In this section, I will help you discover your authentic voice.

"I did it! I spoke for 2.5 minutes...I got told that I was more prepared than most. Thank you to Soness Stevens and all the members of this fabulous group who took time out to help me with wonderful title suggestions and the polishing of my script. I love and appreciate you all." - Claire

+ MODULE 4: CREATE YOUR AUDITION CONTENT

To create your 2.5 minute audition video and prepare for the live talk in five easy steps, I will show you my “Content Design Thinking principles for Innovative Speaking” system:

  • In the Idea Phase I help you brainstorm and develop the ideas that came to you.
  • The second phase, Pro-creation is like creating a prototype, as if you were making a gadget, taping together pens and paperclips to represent what you are trying to make and see how it looks, feels, and get some opinions if this is needed. I’ll show you two different techniques for Pro-Creation so you can work with a prototyping method that feels the best for you.
  • In the third phase, Revision, as rough as it might sound, we begin to invite your team -- that's me and your teammates in the course -- to comment and support you in your creation process.
  • The fourth phase, Production, is when you craft your performance style and rehearse.
  • Finally, it’s time for Feedback, feedback, feedback. The best way to know how audiences will react to your talk is to get feedback way before you ever get to a live event.

+ MODULE 5: PRODUCE AND PROMOTE YOUR AUDITION VIDEO

In this module, I will help you shoot your 2.5 minute audition video and/or use at your live audition. Beside getting my personal feedback for your video, I will show you how to use your audition to pitch for paid speaking gigs, and how to use your audition on your website to grow your online audience and your personal brand.

"They said I was the most prepared, clear and concise. They could easily see how my 2.5 minute talk could be an 8 minute talk for their event! Everyone came up afterwards asking for my card and I got another gig at that audition!” - Denise

If you sign up to Step on the Red Dot, you will not only get the modules.

You get 2 time zones coaching calls weekly for 6 weeks where I will personally answer your most pressing questions, from:

  • How to get speaking engagements and apply to TEDx
  • What really happens on a TEDx stage
  • What to do if something unexpected happens when you're on stage
  • Laser-sharp feedback on your specific creation process

The Step on the Red Dot community is a great gathering place of like-minded people, where you can exchange experiences, get creative together, and provide inspiration for each other.

"I did it! I spoke for 2.5 minutes… I got told that I was more prepared than most. Thank you to Soness Stevens and all the members of this fabulous group who took time out to help me with wonderful title suggestions and the polishing of my script. I love and appreciate you all." -- Claire

This five module-course is the start of your speaking journey. Step on the Red Dot is the only course with the experience to show you how to apply to speak at TED and TEDx. Are you ready to make turn this daydream into a reality? Join me in Step on the Red Dot and let’s get to work on your Idea Worth Spreading!

If you apply today, you’ll get the following bonuses I’m offering only for this launch:

Bonus #1: What to wear on stage and on camera video training & Check list ($197 value)

Bonus #2: The four-part Speaking Fun-Damentals video series to boost your speaking skills ($97 value). The four videos are:

  1. Meditate your way to memorize your talks
  2. Video training on how to prepare for the unexpected.
  3. Mindmapping for presentations
  4. How to find time to practice your audition talk when you've got no time to spare

Bonus #3: MP3 meditation to tap into any emotional state on stage ($47 value)

Derek Halpern, founder of Social Triggers

Derek Halpern, founder of Social Triggers

"It’s very easy to be viewed as an expert when you’re on stage. It’s very hard to write a blog post and say “Hey, guys. I’m an expert,” because it’s just a blog post. Anyone can write a blog post. But I actually saw when I first started speaking, and you speak in front of a crowd of people – whether it’s 20, 30, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 people, it doesn’t matter – when you get off stage, people come up to you, and ask questions, and defer expertise to you because you were the guy on the stage with the microphone. It’s a much easier and better way to establish that instant authority." -- -- Derek Halpern, founder of Social Triggers
"It’s very easy to be viewed as an expert when you’re on stage. It’s very hard to write a blog post and say “Hey, guys. I’m an expert,” because it’s just a blog post. Anyone can write a blog post. But I actually saw when I first started speaking, and you speak in front of a crowd of people – whether it’s 20, 30, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 people, it doesn’t matter – when you get off stage, people come up to you, and ask questions, and defer expertise to you because you were the guy on the stage with the microphone. It’s a much easier and better way to establish that instant authority." -- -- Derek Halpern, founder of Social Triggers