My TEDx Talk Experience

I think I have the public speaking bug

Deepti Kannapan
8 min readMay 2


Photo of me on stage, taken by my sister

About a year ago, I got it into my head that I wanted to try giving a TEDx talk. I remembered reading on a blog somewhere that it was a good way to reach new readers, and I was looking for non-social-media ways to build a platform for my climate writing.

My best work happens from behind a screen in complete solitude, so this would be… different. But I really hate social media, so I’d do anything else that had a shot at working.

I started preparing to apply to TEDx events.

Full disclosure: I took a class on how to do it, because I don’t like figuring out logistical matters, and I prefer to pay someone who has. Still, the basics are simple, and if you want to give it a try, it’s very possible on your own. Each TEDx event, by location, has its own website and its own application form (e.g.). They mostly ask variations on similar questions.

If you want to try this, search the internet for TEDx events, study a few of their application forms, and identify the typical questions. Then, refine your talk idea and prepare stock answers to common questions. It helps when you apply to a TON of them.

The class was a shortcut to knowing the steps to take + training on public speaking. My super-short, honest review of it is:

  • Pricey, but did what it said it would.
  • The sales side of the organization was overzealous and made a bad first impression. The teaching side really knew their stuff.


While preparing, I worked on a climate-related idea for a talk. I’d been writing about climate and sustainability for a while, here on Medium and over on my website.

The big thing I needed to do was simplify, simplify, simplify the idea. Subjects I’ve written entire blog posts or series about could only be referenced in a single line or phrase.

I didn’t love that — I like to build an argument with lots of supporting evidence and rigor, but I was willing to adapt to the much shorter medium. The key here (apparently) is to storytell, appeal to emotion, and entertain first.



Deepti Kannapan

Painter, occasional cartoonist, aerospace engineer. Writes about sustainable technology, creativity, and journaling.