What Makes An Idea Worth Spreading?

Caitlin Gibson

Here at TEDxSydney the curatorial team has a little saying that helps us pluck out the talks that make it to our stage: “A TEDxSydney talk isn’t a talk about an issue, it’s a way to change the dial on that issue”. It’s a way that we can look through a large volume of pitches, recommendations and ideas that come our way through research, random introductions at dinner parties, or one of the thousands of podcasts we listen to and everything in between. 

Unearthing the ideas worth spreading on the TEDxSydney stage is a very imprecise science, but the Ideas Search is one of the best tools that we have to do it. Once a year we put the call out to our community to pitch us their big idea — on any topic — for a chance to join us on stage at one of our events. 

But what exactly are we looking for? What makes a great pitch? And how can you make the most of this opportunity to get up on the red X and share your idea with the world? 

First, some guardrails:

> The format of a TED talk is short. And Ideas Search pitch is even shorter. You have 3 minutes to tell us what your big idea is, so keep it clear and concise. Ask yourself: what is the key message I want to share? Now, can you say that in one or two sentences? That is your central message. Being able to refine and clarify your idea is really hard. But this is one of the best indicators that we have on whether an idea will make a really good TEDx talk. 

> You might be surprised to know the amount of pitches that we get that do focus on an issue — highlighting a big problem we all face— when what we really want to hear are solutions. We are looking for ideas that offer new insights and really have the potential to shift the dial on these sticky problems. 

> The final question you should ask yourself is why you are the best person to share this idea. A TEDx talk is not an opportunity to tell us your life story— condensing that into a few minutes is impossible anyway — but what makes you an expert? How has your perspective allowed you to see this problem in a new way? Is this an idea only you can share? 

TEDxSydney has been around for a long time now, but it is both humbling and inspiring to see that there is no shortage of incredible new ideas coming out of our community each and every day. Ideas worth spreading hold so much power and potential to propel us towards exciting futures, and indeed helping us to reimagine what those futures could even look like in the first place. 

We can’t wait to hear what you have to say. 

Caitlin Gibson, Head of Curation TEDxSydney

Submissions will reopen in 2023 – stay tuned!


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