September 9, 2012

Getting Rejected As A Speaker By A Conference Like TEDxToronto

try againby Promod Sharma, CC

Toastmasters builds your skills, which in turn builds confidence. This year, I took a leap and applied to speak at TEDxToronto about trust.

I got (politely) rejected but don’t feel like a failure. I’ve applied to attend the live event (though I’ve been rejected every year except one).

Rejection isn’t ideal but is part of your journey as a speaker.


In Toastmasters, you learn humility if you have the courage to take risks. By going beyond your current skills, you will fail ... and grow.

If you find the right club, you're experimenting in a safe environment where members are trained to give feedback.

I'm amazed when speakers — beginners to experienced — refuse to get recorded. The equipment is cheap. At Goodyear Toastmasters, the process is free and no one else sees the footage. If you can't stand to watch yourself, you've got a problem. If you don't bother making changes, you're limiting your growth.

Greater humility comes from posting your I-could-do-better video online. Even if very few people watch, your courage grows. You have an even stronger incentive to improve when there's online proof of your past skills.

Good Enough?

How good a speaker are you? That's difficult to say but as you speak, you get better. Start by focusing on your club. Volunteer for different roles for extra practice.

As you improve, volunteer to talk to different groups. Your ideal audience depends on your topic and level of skill. In the beginning, you might need to change your topic to suit different organizers. Later, you’ll get known for your niche.

As you continue speaking, you establish yourself and start getting invited to speak. That's your goal. For faster results, reduce the risk to organizers by posting your past speeches (or at least excerpts).

Choose Yourself

Organizers will reject you but no one can stop you from speaking. You can record yourself and post video on YouTube. Maybe that will help you get selected next time.


Promod Sharma posts presentations with additional resources like slides and other links. His local audiences include the Association of Independent Consultants, the Canadian Association of Management Consultants, the Experion Group, Freelancecamp Toronto, GoodWorks, Podcamp Toronto, a Toastmasters International conference and the Word11 blogging festival. He’s open to opportunities to speak about trust and other topics.

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