Dear Speaker, who are you and why should we invite you?

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There are several ways to find speakers for your event. You can invite them, for example, or you can put out a Call for Papers. Many conferences use a mix of both.

At TEDxStuttgart, we are constantly looking for good speakers and interesting topics. Some we find ourselves, some are recommended to us, and some suggest themselves via our website or by email; and we found quite a few good speakers via that latter method, so a little self-promotion is not something we frown upon.

That is, if you do it right ...

Here's an actual email we received:

"This is me [link], this is my website [link] and this is my book [link]. I talk about this topic at universities and institutions. I'd be delighted to speak at your next TEDx."

And that was it. The name didn't ring a bell and no topic was mentioned in the email or in the subject.

I don't even know where to begin here. Maybe with this: This is just lazy. There is no motivation for us to click on those links. If you can't even be bothered to write two sentences about who you are and what your topic is, why should we care to click on those links and find out?

The person quite clearly didn't think this through. A TEDx is a very attractive event for speakers since it helps with their reputation. Consequentially, TEDx organisers get a lot of applications from speakers. To make yours stand out (in a positive way!), you need to put some effort into it.

I'm writing all this before clicking on those links (and maybe I'll decide not to click on them at all). So maybe this person is inexperienced. But then again, he supposedly wrote a book, so he shouldn't be new to the concept of self promotion - and should know to do better than this.

Which brings me to my next point: This comes across as arrogance. You're effectively saying: "My time is too valuable and all the information about me is readily available anyway." As the recipient of your email, I now have to invest my time to click on those links (3 of them) and - just guessing - will have to read through a lot of self-centric text.

You want something from us. So you should make it easy for us. Look at it from our point of view: We probably don't know who you are. What can you tell us about yourself that makes us want to find out more about you and your topic (and click on those links)? Show us that you've put at least some effort into this.

Speaking of effort, I notice that the email doesn't even mention TEDxStuttgart by name (only TEDx). So in addition to all of the above, this looks suspiciously like it could have been copied and pasted and sent out to a lot of TEDx events.

My most important point, however, is this: If you can't come up with a short summary of who you are and what it is you do, then maybe you are not ready for a TEDx talk yet.

(Image credits: Busy Businessman 3 by Piotr Bizior, from

If you'd like me to talk or write about this topic, you can hire me to do so.
Please email me for details.
Creative Commons Licence "Dear Speaker, who are you and why should we invite you?" by Dirk Haun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.