Submissions for our 2018 event will go online in March

If you are interested in an upcoming TEDxSantaBarbara speaking position, please subscribe to our newsletter, so that you’ll be notified when we do the actual Call for Speakers.

Speaking at TEDxSantaBarbara

TEDxSantaBarbara 2017 featured 12 innovative and influential speakers and entertainers.

If you know someone who belongs on the TEDx stage, or if you belong there yourself, we want to hear from you!  

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 which deliver facts alone. A TEDx talk is centered on one powerful idea that is 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 or a human insight illustrated with the power of a story, or a beautiful image that has meaning. Or perhaps just a reminder of what matters most in life. An idea is anything that can change how people see the world.

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.

If you belong on the stage yourself, we want to hear from you! Use our Speaker submission form by clicking the button at the bottom of this page. If you know someone who would be a good candidate, forward them this page and encourage them to submit a proposal.

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.

Our 2017 Theme was OUTSIDE IN

Within that theme we explored three areas of particular interest:
The Ocean, Human Trafficking and Invention vs. Innovation

Look at the 2017 Talks to see how the theme and sub-topics were interpreted by the speakers to get a sense of how we weave the theme throughout the day.

We will announce our 2018 theme in January so you can start to think about how your idea might fit.

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. Examples: Bryan Stevenson, Onora O’Neill, Chimamanda 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


TEDx Speaker FAQ

We are sure that you have plenty of questions. We’ve answered many that have been asked over the years, plus some. Read these before contacting us with your questions. We have a very small team of volunteers and can’t respond to all emails.

  • Speaking at TEDx

    TEDx isn’t a typical conference. The TEDx audience has high expectations of the speakers. The TEDx speaker team works with speakers well in advance of the conference to help shape a presentation that will succeed on the TEDx stage. TEDx is the place to give the talk of your life.

  • I don’t have much public speaking experience. Can I still give a talk at TEDxSantaBarbara?

    Anyone has the potential to be a great TEDx speaker. Having previous experience of speaking in public will certainly help, but this does not mean you have to be a professional. Its great to hear from the many professional and semi-professional motivational speakers who have helped others to improve their lives, but after much trial and error, we have found that our platform may not be suitable for such motivational speakers. At TEDxSantaBarbara our focus is very much driven by an idea or innovation rather than by personal transformation.

  • Can I speak at TEDx by becoming a sponsor?

    No. Sponsoring TEDx has many benefits, but a guaranteed speaking slot is not one of them. Use the Contact Form at the bottom of this page if you’d like to know more about this rule.

  • Is there a deadline for submissions?

    Yes. Submissions are open from June 1, 2017 to midnight Pacific on June 23.

  • I want to speak at TEDx, but my usual talk runs 50 minutes. Can I get a longer slot?

    We strictly enforce the clock for all speakers. TEDx is the place to condense your ideas into a compelling 12-18 minute talk that communicates your best ideas. We’ve found that a carefully prepared presentation of this length can have extraordinary impact.

  • Do you have keynotes or panels?

    At TEDx, everyone hears every presentation. There are no breakout sessions or tracks, no keynotes, and no panels.

  • Do you pay speakers?

    TEDx does not pay speakers. We do, of course, provide excellent hotel accommodation, as well as a ticket for you and one guest. Other benefits include pre-conference coaching and training, special events for networking, the gift bag, and of course, your talk posted on the TEDx Youtube Channel. We are committed to creating an experience that’s tremendously fulfilling. An additional benefit of speaking at TEDx is that your presentation may be posted on the main TED website as part of their beautifully produced, broadcast-quality video series. Not all talks given on the TEDx stage are posted, but we hope yours will be. You can also direct people to watch your talk live on the Livestream that will be available for free on the day of the event.

  • What is the time commitment if I'm selected to present?

    Before you apply, it is worth considering whether you can spare the time required to perfect your talk. You’d be surprised to learn the amount of work it takes to create a good talk. It can take up to 3-4 months with drafts and rehearsals to craft a talk. Speakers will need to provide drafts to the TEDxSantaBarbara team at the agreed milestones. This helps us track the progress of the talk and provide constructive feedback. Being accepted as a TEDxSantaBarbara speaker is just the beginning of the process. We provide a robust speaker coaching program that will help you and the other speakers give the talk of your life. This will include core idea development, story coaching, and presentation coaching. Expect to spend 8-10 hours directly with a coach. This time is in addition to the work that you will do on your own, writing, memorizing, designing and practicing your talk. We have rehearsals the week of the event, with a full dress rehearsal the day before, Friday, November 10th at the New Vic. It is not necessary for your talk to focus on Santa Barbara or local issues. At TEDxSantaBarbara, our aim is simply to include speakers who live and work in and around the area. We are looking for ideas that originate in our community but are widely relatable.

  • The Application process

    You will be sent an automated email acknowledging receipt of your application. The application review process takes several weeks so please be patient as we carefully review each application. Those who are successful will be contacted to arrange a meeting or Skype call with the speaker curator. The deadline June 23, we advise that you submit your application as soon as you are clear about your idea. Do not leave your application till the last moment. Finalists will participate in a live audition before the 2017 selections are made.

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.

Our Speaker Coach and Strategist is Kymberlee Weil. She offers free tips and tricks for TEDx speakers on her blog at, with short videos released every Sunday if you’re a subscriber.