How I Created 6 TEDx Style Speakers In a Year

Joya Dass speaking
Photographer: Christian Fiore Photography

I want to tell you a story about last 8 weeks.

We started with a workshop Thursday, September 21st.

Each woman in my Mastermind had spent the year building a powerful personal brand. By September, she had done enough writing and reflecting exercises to harvest one thing from her zone of genius to share in an 11-minute talk on stage.

I trained them in the TEDx methodology for 8 weeks, having delivered one myself in 2013. Each week, they got feedback from me, from each other, from former TEDtalkers as they presented written drafts, oral drafts and eventually delivery from memory.


Why did they need to build a brand?

  • One person got a promotion and was building her team. Her brand was now more important than ever.
  • One person left corporate and needed clients for her consulting firm.
  • One person already had a brand, but had pivoted to a new message.
  • One person wears two business hats, but wanted to amplify one.


4 things I shared with them:


1. Show me. Don’t tell me.

Most of my clients get right to: “I hired her within the week.”

Take the audience by the hand, and give him or her a front row seat, witnessing the moment the decision was made. What was happening. Where were you sitting. What were you wearing? Who were you with? Show me the decision making process. Don’t short me the moment by just telling me.

It’s a real gyp.

2. Give me contrast.

The audience can’t appreciate the higher high’s if you don’t share the lower low’s.

Home renovation shows are so popular on HGTV.

Each episode starts out with a decrepit house, with an awful kitchen. By the end, the viewer hears angels singing, as the walls have been busted down to reveal an open airy floor plan. The viewer gets instant gratification in one hour.

The brain likes contrast.

3. Give me a personal story

Think about the way history has been passed through time. Stories shared around the camp fire.

A compelling story engages the reptilian brain (registers high stakes, drama), the emotional brain (why we cry at movies), the rational brain (in charge of executive thinking, imagining a different future)

When you engage all three brains, people can’t keep their eyes off you. Why would you miss wanting to engage all three brains?

4. Be simple. Clear not clever.

A litigator once said “When you say a word people don’t understand, they don’t hear the next 10 words.” Imagine if he used all kinds of jargon to convince a jury, made up of every day people, to decide on life or death.

He wouldn’t. He doesn’t have that luxury.

Neither should you as a storyteller.

As Hemingway said: Write shorter sentences. Choose monosyllabic words.

  • At first, they had too many stories. I urged them to cut it down to 1.
  • They didn’t draw the parallels with their work. I pushed for it.
  • Their stories were too complex. I urged simplicity.

Over time, we got more stories. We got more specificity. We were ‘in the room’ as things were happening. 

Now it was event day.

Friends, family, CEO’s colleagues filled the theater.

The fear of failing publicly was real.

“It was magical, refreshingly authentic, magnificent” I heard as I waded through the crowds afterwards.

I heaved a sigh of relief.

A year’s worth of work was done.

Could you see yourself in this story?

If so, we do this type of work together in my Mastermind. I’m teaching you to tell better stories about yourself and build your brand.

And I won’t be doing it quietly. We will do it in very public way like my group did. Want to learn more about our upcoming Mastermind starting on January 20th, 2024? If so, put the word “Interested” in comments and I’ll get back to you with more details.

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