Speaker Applications are closed.

TEDxSantaBarbara is an invite-only event. We do not accept unsolicited applications to speak. If you have an idea for someone we might invite, please use our Contact Form to let us know. We are always looking for interesting ideas. Please read this entire page before nominating someone. Thank you. 


TEDxSantaBarbara was founded in 2010, with our first event at the Bacara. Since then, we've brought 100 talks to the Red Circle and garnered nearly 24.5 million views.

We currently produce a live stream called Making Waves: Conversations with Influencers and Disruptors, a weekly show featuring one guest in a lively back and forth, focused on one idea the world needs to hear.

TEDxSantaBarbara features innovative and influential speakers and entertainers from the local area and thought-leaders from around the country.

A TEDx talk has a powerful idea at its core, what TED calls, 'an idea worth spreading.'

The most successful TEDx talks are more than just lectures that deliver facts alone. Instead, a TEDx talk is centered on one powerful idea supported by facts. It doesn't have to be a scientific breakthrough, a genius invention, or a complex legal theory. It can be a simple how-to, a human insight illustrated with the power of a story, or a beautiful image with meaning. Or perhaps just a reminder of what matters most in life. An idea is anything that can change how people see the world.


Our current project.

Making Waves:
Conversations with Influencers & Disruptors

These bi-weekly conversations focus on five main areas: Social Justice, The Pandemic, Technology, Sustainability, and Creativity. In addition, we dive deep into various areas, including Environmental Justice, Racial Justice, and Economic Justice.

Look at our past speakers for examples of over 100 ideas we've already discussed. If you believe your idea should be considered for the show, send us your information here and we'll be in touch.

We also continue to explore key themes of interest, while specifically looking for big ideas in these areas:

  • Animal Activism
  • Food and/or AgTech
  • The Ocean
  • Social Justice
  • Innovation / Invention
  • Climate Activism
  • Art
  • Performance
  • Comedy
  • Youth issues
  • Social Innovation
  • Civil Discourse

About our speakers

At TEDx, we search year-round for presenters who will inform and inspire, surprise and delight. Our presenters run admired companies and design amazing products; they invent world-changing devices and create ground-breaking media. They are trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses.


Who we’re looking for

TEDx talks cover a vast array of topics across a variety of areas. If you’ve identified a unique issue that you are passionate about, the TEDx platform can be a perfect place to share it.

Perhaps you have identified a challenge or problem that is important to you. The difference between a speech on this subject and a TEDx talk is that TEDx speakers present an issue and propose possible solutions.

The best TEDx talks are original, unique, and engaging. Ideas that resonate for you are likely to do the same for others. The TEDx stage is your chance to present an idea or issue, or a new spin on an existing topic that has never been discussed before.


Can I speak from my own experience?

Your story can provide an excellent basis for your talk.  You will have unique insight and be passionate about your subject. Insight and passion are vital components of a TEDx talk.

Even though your story is fascinating, after viewing thousands of TED and TEDx talks, we know that merely sharing your biography does not make a successful presentation. Some talks end up being stories of self which offer compelling anecdotes from a person’s life but provide no central idea that wraps the narrative together. These stories are often heartbreaking, unusual, fascinating, popular talks that offer interesting commentary on local culture. But without the wrap-around of an idea, they’re just stories or biographical sketches. They aren’t idea-centered talks.

Rather than simply relaying your experience, think about how you might use it as a link to an overall throughline.


What makes a good TEDx talk?

The common perception is that only the most inspiring, animated individuals give the best TEDx talks. In fact, it is not the person we are searching for but the person’s idea or innovation.

We are looking for ideas that need to be defended, not something self-evident but an interesting argument, perhaps with an antagonist.

The most successful speakers change perceptions with their talks. This could be anything from a scientific discovery that changes how you think about frogs to a philosophical argument that reshapes your notions of the cosmos.


Does my talk need to follow a particular format?

TEDx talks do not have a prescriptive approach or formula. This is what makes each one so unique. If you watch TEDx talks regularly, you will see that people give talks on a wide variety of topics and present them in lots of different ways. Often, the more creative, the better.

There are seven different types of talks you might want to use as the basis of your own. 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?

You will have a chance to select from this list when you make your submission.


The Big Idea

The talks that make one or two solid points, and it’s important.
ExamplesBryan StevensonOnora O’NeillChimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The tech demo

An onstage look at some ingenious 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, Liu Bolin, Aparna Rao

The ‘dazzle with wonder.'

These talks are mainly about the amazement of science and discovery.
Examples: Yoav Medan, Marcus Byrne, Janna Levin

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, Lawrence Lessig, Rose George


Frequently Asked Questions


I am aware that I need to have a 1-2 minute video ready to upload as part of the application process, I understand the information on this page, and I agree to be bound by the general guidelines outlined herein.  

I AGREE - Take me to the Application

Want more inspiration?

For anyone who has ever been moved by a TED talk, here is a link to Chris Anderson’s Book: Insiders Guide to Speaking at TED. We highly recommend it to anyone who wants to speak on the TEDx stage.

We recommend this playlist of eight talks, curated by the editorial team at TED, to help get you pumped up.