In this week’s episode, we’re talking with Frank King, TEDx speaker coach, about what it takes to not only land one TEDx talk, but FIVE.
You read that right – 5 TEDx talks.
On top of that, Frank shares his journey as the mental health comedian, shares pro insights into what TED looks for in applications, and give us the inside scoop on booking TED speakers.
Listen to find out how you can land your next TEDx talk!
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Show Notes 📓
✅ We’re working with Frank King on a TEDx course that walks you through, step-by-step, how to get booked for a TEDx talk. If you want to join the waitlist for our special launch offer, enter your email at the top of the page!
✅ Get the 6 Things That Will Kill Your Chances of Landing a TEDx Talk here: https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/su/qkdr13X/tedx
🎤 Thank you to our sponsor, Libsyn Studio (formerly Auxbus)! Want the best podcasting solution out there? Learn more here: https://www.libsynstudio.com/
🚀 And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/
Read the Transcription 🤓
Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of technically speaking. Now, before we get started with this interview where Max, Austin and I talk with Frank King about how to become a five-time TEDx speaker. I wanted to provide a bit of a disclaimer. In today’s episode, there are underlying themes of suicide. So, for any of you who may be triggered by that content, just know that’s ahead on today’s episode. Nonetheless, we hope you enjoy this one and we’ll see you in there.
Austin: All right everybody, welcome to this week’s episode of technically speaking. We are so excited to be here and we have with us today, Frank King and we are super happy to have him. Frank is a suicide prevention speaker and trainer, and was a writer for The Tonight Show for 20 years. Now, for Frank, depression and suicide run in his family, he’s thought about killing himself more times than he can count. He’s fought a lifetime battle with major depressive disorder and chronic suicidality, and has turned that into, or that long dark journey into five TEDx talks. He’s actually been invited to seven but due to scheduling conflicts, wasn’t able to attend two.
So, five TEDx talks sharing his life-saving insights on mental health awareness with associations, corporations, and colleges as well. Frank’s a motivational public speaker who uses his life lessons to start the conversation, giving people permission to give voice to their feelings and experiences surrounding depression and suicide. So Frank, I know that was wild there, super powerful topic. It is something that a lot of people struggle with. I think everybody has times in their life where they have feelings of depression. I don’t think as many people get as extreme as you have though and for those that do, they need somebody to help relate, and to guide them through it and give them some hope.
So, I love that that’s what you’re all about. It’s not primarily why we’re here to have you speak to our audience though. As I mentioned, five TEDx talks, that is incredible to say the least from what? Vancouver, British Columbia, all the way to Pensacola, Florida, you’ve done this all over the place, and I know this is a topic that a lot of people are curious about in the speaking world. Ted is sort of like the peak of a mountain, I think for a lot of people, it’s certainly a milestone. So, Frank, to get us started here, I’m curious, how did you find yourself becoming a TEDx speaker? And I’m curious about how that translated into being a coach as well, but…
Frank: Oh yeah. Well, I started comedy actually, the day after Christmas. It was 85, 1895, right at the beginning of the comedy club, Boom, and my lovely wife, though girlfriend at the time, and I went on the road, we did stand, I did stand-up, she came along for the ride. 6 thou… I’m sorry, 2,629 nights in a row non-stop.
Frank: Yes. Yeah, didn’t clean a bathroom in seven years and…
Austin: Which I wouldn’t be too upset about. I don’t know if you were at the time.
Frank: No, I was thrilled and I got to work with people who were just comics back then, Seinfeld, Dennis Miller, Rosie, Ellen DeGeneres, Jeff Foxworthy, Ron white, and back then they put us up in a three bedroom when they called the Comedy Condo. So, we not only working, we live with them for a week [inaudible 03:41]. It was an amazing time to be a standup. Then that began to wind down, did some radio for a while, took a number one morning show in my old hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. Took it number six and 18 months, one of my greatest accomplishments, then just drive it in the ground, going into middle earth. And then made the jump to the corporate comedy market because my comedy was always clean, speaking after dinner, after lunch, and rode that horse until 2007, was making good money like five grand for 45 minutes of clean corporate comedy course.
Then the recession hit. We lost everything in a chapter seven bankruptcy and that’s when I learned where the barrel of my gun tastes like. Spoiler alert, I didn’t pull the trigger. I know, [cross-talk 04:25] nervous laugh from the audience almost every time. [Inaudible 04:29] laughing at this. And after that, and looking back, my family history, grandmother died by suicide, great aunt died by suicide mother, I thought, you know, because I’d always wanted to be a speaker who was funny in addition to being a funny speaker, but I really thought I didn’t have anything to teach anybody.
And after that episode, I thought, you know what? I could teach suicide prevention. So, I got some training but the big deal was, here’s where Ted comes in, I had to re-brand because every meeting planner, every event planner, every speaker’s bureau thought of me as a funny guy. And so, my wife goes, do TEDx. And I said what’s a TEDx? Just so happen, I got an application in the email, an email application, would you apply to speak at the TEDx in Vancouver, BC? And I thought sure.
And I got it on my first fry and I came out on stage at age 56 as depressed and suicidal. Nobody knew. My family, my wife, my friends had no idea that I’ve been living with that all my life and that allowed me to rebrand with the event, planners, meeting planners, speakers’ bureaus, all of a sudden, they realize, hey, he can talk about something serious. That talk, those big red letters, increase my visibility marketability and certainly credibility as a speaker who’s serious. Now there’s still humor in my presentations, but that was the beginning of the rebranding process and then from that one, I got two phone calls the next couple of months invited to do two more.
Do you have another TEDx on a mental health topic? Yeah. My fourth one I applied for, and Fizzle and I applied for, and we’ll talk about, I actually got those last two without an audition, I just applied for them and they like the title and subtitle idea so much, they just said, no, you’re on. Well, we’ll talk about that in a minute. How that works.
Austin: That is incredible.
Taylorr: Yeah, wow.
Austin: So, what year was the first time that you got on a Ted stage?
Austin: That’s wild. It’s interesting to me because my whole life, I’m a young guy obviously, and my whole life I’ve been watching Ted talks and very much to look up to the people that are up there standing on stages and sharing their ideas and for non-speakers, I think that in a lot of ways, that seems to be sort of the top of the iceberg. If you’ve done a Ted talk, you’ve made it as a thought leader. For you to share such a sensitive topic in such a big way, I think is awesome. You’ve probably helped a lot of people, so.
Taylorr: Yeah. [Cross-talk 07:13] Oh, sorry, you can go ahead.
Frank: I get an email every now and then, or a DM on Twitter for somebody who’s seen it just stumbled on it and they live with mental illness and it made a large impact in their… most people with mental illness feel like they’re all alone, nobody else thinks this way. And then they discover, wait a minute, other people do so.
Taylorr: You know, what’s crazy is that, you just kind of mentioned this nonchalantly, but you were an entertainer for a while, corporate entertainer of sorts and you had to go through a rebrand while making this happen and then landing Ted talks at the same time. And usually those things don’t happen at the same time for somebody. It’s like, okay, I’m going to rebrand and then I’ll land some more gigs with that new brand and then maybe I’ll get the Ted talk. What made you so powerful, do you think, to be able to handle the rebrand and land the Ted talks along with it? Why do you think you got so many opportunities to speak for Ted all while going through all that?
Frank: Well, I think guys, something I learned years ago, decades ago at the National Speakers Association. Pick] a lane.
Taylorr: Pick a lane. That’s right.
Frank: I had; I’m sure you guys teach this. I had a networking keynote, an inspiration keynote, I had some cardiac issues so I had a cardiac keynote, and I, all of a sudden had this suicide prevention keynote. And I just thought, January 1st, 2018, I thought, you know what? I’m going to pick a lane. I’m just going to be a suicide prevention speaker. I’m going to become the mental health comedian, that’s my brands. And that helped a great deal when I focused on one keynote, basically. And then after that I focused my marketing, I looked at the top 10 occupations at risk for suicide.
I thought, you know what they, because I tell my clients, you need an ideal client, an ideal client in my mind is, I bet you guys teach this, is somebody with an annual meeting that uses outside speakers that has a budget that can [inaudible 09:17], and most importantly, they have a bleeding need for what it is I have to say. And so, I chose dentists, veterinarians, physicians, construction, and safety managers. All of those people have annual meetings, money, use assets speakers, and all of those five groups are working very hard to bring down the rate of suicide in their particular occupation.
Austin: I didn’t even know that those were industries where that is a problem. Especially like construction, that’s one that I don’t think anybody would ever think of if they didn’t look at the data.
Max: For sure.
Frank: Number one. Construction is number one.
Austin: No kidding.
Frank: Yeah. Well it’s male heavy. Eight out of 10 people who die by suicide in the U.S these days are men and [inaudible 10:07] rough and tumble guys are probably not going to be reaching out for help with their emotions. So that’s the, and the thing about doing a TEDx for me was it and I talked to my TEDx clients about this, look, what are you passionate about? Because that’s, Ted talked about passion. There’s a book called talk like Ted and it’s the nine things that the author believes belong in every great TEDx talk or Ted talk. And number one is passion.
So, I, from the moment we started working together, I’m driving them into a niche. Because if you’re passionate about it and if it’s organic to you, then you know, I go to bed thinking about mental health, I wake up thinking about mental health. It’s not like I have to force myself to move forward as a mental health speaker. Somebody said, how’d you pick, mental illness as a topic? Well, the topic actually picked me.
Taylorr: That’s usually how it goes.
Max: For sure.
Frank: And some of my clients that’s, I’ve got a client with narcolepsy and she’s got a foundation, a sleep foundation and she’s got a book on narcolepsy. And I spoke to a young woman, we signed sign her up this past weekend. She got a book, her name is Liv or Olivia, her last name is Sain. S A I N, coincidentally, and she has a bipolar disorder and a substance use disorder. And she wrote a book called Live To… Liv To, I can’t believe I’ve forgotten the book. Live to Tell. The book’s called Liv To Tell. And so, it’s not like when we first talked, it wasn’t like what am I going to talk about on the next day? She’d already written the book on it.
And I said, well, then here’s the deal. That’s the name of the book that should also be the name of your TEDx talk. Do you have a tagline for your speaking? And she goes, somewhere in the conversation, she said this. Hopelessness is just a visitor. I went stop. That’s the subtitle of your TEDx talk. Liv To Tell: Hopelessness Is Just a Visitor. But it’s organic to her. Not everybody has a mental illness [inaudible 12:23] something that is actually chemically, is genetically, but most people have a passion for something and speakers, especially.
Max: It sounds like as you’re talking Frank, that the being able to stand up there with conviction, because you use the word organic and it sounds like they’ve really need to connect with it in a deep way. It’s not like you’ve got all the time in the world on a TEDx stage. And it sounds like that conviction and that passion is really what has to come through to make it authentic, to make it impact the way that you want to see it impact people. Is that fair?
Frank: It is fair. I’ve got a client who is a dentist or retired dentist. She bought a practice that was crumbling, she saved it, built it up to it an amazing practice and then the last recession last at all. And she speaks on, I think it’s going to be, it doesn’t matter how hard you hit rock bottom, it’s how high you bounce. So, she bounced back from that one but before she bounced back after it crashed and burned, she was too embarrassed tell anybody. She was just devastated. So, she found herself in her basement, standing on a stool with a noose around her neck and her phone rang and it was a patient who needed help. So, she removed the noose, stepped off the stool and back into her life.
So, it gives me chills but get this, I believe there should always be a dramatic moment, an aha or a force the audience to catch their breath. And what we’re going to do is, we’re going to take a stool and put it off to one side far enough away that you know it’s not for war, and she’s not going to address the stool until it’s time to crawl up on it and mime she’s hanging herself. And then we’re going to have a sound effect from backstage of the classic iPhone phone ringing sound and let it ring two, three, four times until the audience inside their heads going answer the phone. So, we try to build in that. I don’t think if it wasn’t organic to you, if you weren’t passionate about the topic, you would just be acting. You know what I mean? I think your acting would show, but to her, I she stood on that stool, she had the news around her neck, she felt the rough… so, I think that’s what I try to find with my TEDx coaching clients is that those moments… Liv that I mentioned before, Liv To Tell, she wanted to end her life.
She got very drunk. She’s in the kitchen deciding which kitchen knife to use in the wooden block. She pulls out the kitchen knife, she remembers the feel of the cold steel on her neck and she tells it that way. And of course, she didn’t go through with it, but she got that close. And so, those are the kinds of things I try to pull out of the coaching client. Those sorts of things that will move the audience and then we add some humor because if you can move them from pole to pole, make them cry and make them laugh in the same 12, 18 minutes, you know the old story. They may not remember what you said, but they’ll remember how they felt.
Max: It sounds like that…
Austin: Like this because…
Max: Go ahead Austin.
Austin: It’s just a quick comment. I like talking about this because we don’t dive into the stagecraft side of speaking all that often. We talk about it occasionally, but this theatrical element that you sort of bring into these conversations that you’re having with the audience essentially, it makes things so much more powerful and sort of becomes the brand at which you become known for. I was just thinking of Liv’s book, Liv To Tell, it’s such a cool brand that gets built into the very story that she’s moving audiences with and so there’s a business case to be made for what you’re saying too, is my only point.
Frank: Well, when I talked to Liv I said look, that’s the name of your book. Have you bought livtotell.com? No. Well, let’s buy it right now while I’m on this too because you want to go daddy [inaudible 16:47].com. I said do you have podcasts? No. Well you are going to have a podcast and it’s going to be called, Wait for It: Liv To Tell. So, you’re what you’re doing is you’re branding.
Taylorr: Brand consistency.
Frank: We selected that; I selected that brand for her that evening. That will be her podcast, her URL, her TEDx talk, her book. And so, I give a little bit of that, what I want to do is, by the time they record the TEDx and then it goes up on YouTube, want have all those things in place, the branding and the podcast, so that we can monetize best we can when the YouTube video launches so they’re in a position at that point to begin accepting speaking engagements.
Taylorr: Definitely. You know, one of the things that you’ve mentioned, it was a little earlier on, but you have this case to be made about really picking a lane and having an ideal client and then sticking with that through and through your brand consistency. And I think this is one of the biggest areas that we, the biggest mistakes that we see speakers and other thought leaders make is, kind of that kind of broadness to their talks or their services or the people that they serve and then you kind of end up with this brand inconsistency basically, that more or less confuses people and makes it kind of feel like you’re pushing a boulder up a mountain when you’re trying to sell or get engagements or just have more in your business and people coming inbound to you. And it really sounds like what you help people do is really unlock that passion, that ideal client profile, that lane, and I that’s obviously one of the biggest mistakes. And I think we are coming at it from a slightly different perspective because it sounds like some of the people you work with, they might have already been a published author or, and I don’t know what percentage of people are actually established professional speakers before saying hey, we want to land a Ted Talk, but a lot of the clients we work with they’re established professional speakers who have been working in the corporate space or the association space for a while and they’re like no, I want to do a Ted Talk now.
I feel like it’s going heighten my exposure and more credibility and kind of everything you said at the beginning. And we kind of went through in depth, one of those mistakes people make, which is not having a lane specific enough and clear enough to be getting that Ted Talk in the first place. I’m kind of curious about the other mistakes people make when landing a Ted Talk. We have a bunch of listeners on this podcast right now, figuring out how to land that Ted Talk so what are some of the biggest mistakes that people make when they’re looking for a Ted Talk and applying to one?
Frank: Well, I’ve spoken to a number of what they call Curation Teams, those people in the committee at the event that will decide who gets the auditions, who goes on stage. And what they’ve told me is the number one thing that gets you thrown into the no pile immediately is too much. Brevity is the soul of wit and also the soul of a good TEDx application. Too many words in the description of your idea, too many ideas sometimes, too much of anything. And I worked very hard with my clients and some of, most of the TEDx applications ask you for your idea in one of three ways. A 10-word elevator pitch, a title subtitle, or two sentences. And when I tell my coaching client, they’ve got a boiled I did down to 10 words they probably have a hernia.
I can’t, [inaudible 20:18]. Well, there’s a trick we use, well, let’s start with a title subtitle. So, Liv and I did that. Liv To Tell: Hopelessness is Just A Visitor. Okay Liv, that is your less than 10-word elevator pitch. So, just take the title and subtitle rub them together, put a gum in the middle and that’s your 10-word elevator pitch. And then two sentences, but again, the thing that will kill a TEDx application faster than else is they open it up when the person hasn’t gone through the process of boiling it down to what the TEDx curation team is looking for. I spend a great deal of my time with my coaching clients editing and pulling things out that don’t move the narrative forward. So, number one is just too much of whatever will get you [cross-talk 21:09].
Austin: I’m curious. Do you think that that’s because having too much fluff, I guess we’ll say is an indication that they haven’t distilled the idea that they want to share enough? Or is it also like the application thing where you’re trying to get a job and you keep your resume to one page because the person who’s reading it just doesn’t have the time to read more and they would rather just throw that one in the trash and move on to the next person, then try to read more than they have to? Or maybe it’s both.
Frank: I think it’s both. And here’s the thing and I’ve told comics as many times. With comedians, I’m coaching a comic and he’s got one F word in his entire act. I go look, here’s the deal, one F is not going to get you the job and it will keep you from getting a job. The person who’s booking comedians and the people who are booking Ted Talk, they’ve got a lot of applications to go through. They’re not looking for the first reason to book you, they are looking for the very first reason not to book you so they can throw you the no pile and go on to the next 49 applications they were given, you know, everybody got 50 and [inaudible 22:14] Oh God, so yeah, you cannot give them a reason, any reason to throw you in the no pile. And again, brevity being concise, and what you said, Austin, they’re probably suspecting, if you wander around verbally, you probably haven’t got a real solid idea of what your idea or spreading it.
Austin: That’s just a valuable rule for life itself, I think. If we can learn to say what we want to say in less words, that’s better for everybody.
Taylorr: And I think what you said too, about what the Ted curators go through, it’s very much like what your decision makers go through when you’re selling a corporate and association gig, you’re pitching your speaking, your consulting, your training, whatever you might do outside of this, everything you’ve outlined and what it sounds like is a lot of these exercises that you walk people through when you’re discovering their passion and then making their ideas super concise, that’s immediately translatable, not only just to more Ted talks, but to actually selling those services to companies and associations to continue the engagement. It sounds like these are very transferrable and it sounds like the curators are going through a very similar experience to what decision makers are going through. They’re just looking for the first reason not to book you so they can move on and get to the next thing.
Frank: Yes. And if you boil it down for TEDx talk, on your website, for verbiage, you have whacked away everything that doesn’t move your business narrative forward. And you know how people are nowadays, they skim before they read.
Frank: So, if it’s bullet points, short, concise bullet points, if your tagline is Hopelessness Is Just A Visitor, small, very digestible as fewer characters as possible chunks. So, you don’t make an event planner or a media planner kind of work too hard. And one of the benefits of doing the TEDx is you have boiled your idea down to 12 to 18 minutes and then I them look, now what we’ve got to do is expanded to 45 to 60 for your keynote. But some people come to me with a keynote and some people come to me just with the 12, 18 minutes and to tell the speaker they need to boil their 45-minute keynote down to 12 to 15 minutes, again, they’ll look on their face. I can’t. Well that’s my job is to edit, because they are married to their material. They love their stuff.
And all talk to aren’t 18. Between 12 and 18 minutes, you can’t go more than 18 but last time I did was 12 and I’ve done a 15 and an 18. So, it’s again, a lot of what I do is, is editing them, figuring out what has to stay and what has to go.
Austin: Super helpful.
Max: We work in a space where we’re coaching people all the time and I’m laughing a little bit as I’m listening to you because you’re talking about, you have to say okay, that’s awesome make it 12 to 18 minutes so sometimes you have to have those tough conversations. I’m just curious as a coach, do people come to you when they’re getting started? Or do they find that they try on their own or just from a coaching perspective? When do people usually come to you and find you? And do they stumble their way there? Or is it like a bee line for you because they just get,
Frank: I would say it was about half and half. And one mistake you can make, one of those six mistakes you can make to blow your chance of landing a TEDx Talk is you apply a couple of times, you can give up. Half my clients apply couple of times on their own and just wipe off or they just apply for the one in their town. I tell them look, I’ve never had a TEDx that I didn’t have to fly to, you’d never a profit in your own hometown. Some people will do, there’s one in Eugene where I live, there’s several important, and one of these days I’m going to be able to drive it. but so, far I’ve been to fly ever where I spoke. So, people tend to, about half of my clients have tried and given up and the other half have not tried.
And I do quite a bit of social media marketing, looking for speakers, authors, coaches, and toastmasters. Most of those people want a TEDx Talk, probably half of them taking a shot at it, but each one wants it for a different reason. The author wants to get the out about the book, the coach they’ve been told by John Maxwell or whoever they are coaching from, you should have a Ted Talk and strainers, same thing, it’s kind of like coaches and speakers, of course, for credibility. Now here’s the thing about speakers. The TEDx folks have tumbled to the fact that a lot of speakers want TEDx Talks or demo so they get a lot of applications from speakers. So, we have to be very careful. If someone’s got a motivational speech, we cannot send an application with a motivational speaker because they say oftentimes in the rules and regs of the TEDx, we don’t want any motivational speeches.
So, what they’re paying me for is to hide the vegetables, [inaudible 27:29] motivational speech, but you don’t know that, you’re eating the meat and you don’t even notice the vegetables. You say it without saying it so that you get your point across, because again, a motivational speech, nine out of 10 times, is going to pitch right in the no pile because they don’t want motivational speaker.
Austin: I think that that goes for any business too and it wasn’t always that way for a long time, people got hired just to be entertainers. We’ve heard this from the veterans of the speaking space, where 20, 30 years ago, you could get hired if you were just a speaker and somebody could vouch for your ability to wow an audience. But we’ve heard that, especially during the 2008 crisis the companies and the organizations that were hiring speakers switched to be much more focused on solutions and experts that could solve problems rather than just simply entertainment. And since then, I think that’s gotten increasingly more and more true and even in 2020 with COVID coming in, people have budgets to hire speakers, but if they’re not solving a specific problem and it’s much harder to justify spending that money for an organization. So, I guess all I’m saying is the philosophy behind what it is that you’re bringing to the table does need to be deeper than I’m just here to inspire the audience, I’m here to solve a specific problem. And it sounds like that’s true for TEDx right now as well.
Frank: Yes. And when I tell my students or somebody considering it is, I help design the application links and I just send out a dozen application links to my current coaching clients. It’s a good time to apply by the way, because a lot of people think that TEDx Talks are not happening. The ones for the fall, have pretty much been postponed to next fall, but I sent out 12 links yesterday to TEDx’s that they think are going to be live in February and March. So, it’ is a great time to… and I tell people look, if you get the audition, it’s probably going to be a two- or three-minute video overview or a five-minute zoom overview with the curation team. And undoubtedly, they’re going to ask you this question as soon as you get done with your five minutes in the Q and A, okay, what are you going to teach our audience? So, you have to have those learning objectives, able tos, how tos ready. I have my clients construct an email with three to six learning objectives, how to, able tos, so when the committee asks, because they’re all about what is my audience going to learn? What can they do after they heard you speak? They couldn’t do before they heard you speak.
Taylorr: Yeah. There’re so many ties, it’s funny as we’re talking here, so many ties to just applying to Ted, speaking at Ted and just selling yourself as a thought leader to companies and associations. We’ve been talking largely about these six things, the mistakes that people make when they go after a Ted Talk, and I know you have an awesome PDF that we’re going to be sharing with the group in the show notes to all of our listeners, But Frank we’re all about creating value for the audience, of course And I know you have this lead magnet. What else are you working on that our audience can benefit from?
Frank: Yeah. So, I’m working on a course with you guys, an online on demand course to How to Get A TEDx Talk. Can I share one other dramatic moment, my favorite dramatic moment from my… and I’ve yet to do this at TEDx, but it’s coming.
Frank: I did it on stage at a showcase for a dental group. In the United States one person dies by suicide every 11 minutes. And so, what I do, and I had no PowerPoint, I just had a countdown clock, I got like a countdown clock on a bomb on the screen. As soon as that stage, they start the countdown clock and I don’t address it, I just let it go, let it count. And at some point, in the talk like the 10 minutes 32nd point, I say to them listen, the good news is you can make a difference, you can save a life and you can do it by doing something as simple as what we’re doing right here, and that starting a conversation. And I turned the screen [inaudible 31:40] and go before their time runs out and they stop at seven seconds.
So, the entire time I’m talking, they’re watching me watching the clock, watching me, watching the clock, is it going to go to zero and let the guy die? You got to stop the clock. So, I’ve got them and when I got done with it, they’re standing there crying, they’re clapping. I just sensed, it would work, I’ve never tried it before and it just blew the roof off. So, those are the moments that I’m looking for the coaching clients. And I speak on suicide prevention as you guys know, generally as a workplace health and safety issue.
And the ROI, the why for me, why do that? I have something called chronic suicidal ideation. It’s rare and almost every time I speak, well, every time, but one that I’ve spoken, there’s been somebody in the audience who has that and they don’t know it has a name, they just think there’s some kind of freak. And I had a young woman come up at after college presentation, and she goes I want thank you for your keynote. I said, you’re welcome. She goes, but I got to tell you, made me weep. I didn’t make you weep. I’ve got a story in there about how for me and people like me, suicide is always a solution for problems, large and small.
And so small, my car broke down a couple of years ago I had three thoughts unbidden. Get it fixed, buy a new one or I could just kill myself. That is chronic suicidal ideation in a nutshell. So, she says to me you know, frankly, when you told that story about your car and get it fixed, buy a new one or you can just kill yourself. She goes, I’ve been having those thoughts all my life. I did not know it had a name, I thought it was some kind of freak. She goes, when I heard you say that out loud, I realized the first time in my life that I’m not alone and I wept.
That’s my why, that’s why I do what I do, because maybe I’ve steered her far enough off the path to suicide that she’ll l live a normal life. It occurred to me, I’m sort of like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. Imagine showing what these people’s lives would be like if I weren’t there to speak and go hey, you’re not alone.
Frank: Second thought was now I can’t kill myself because if I did, I would take all those people with me who never got a chance to hear me speak.
Taylorr: That’s right.
Frank: So, my passion is obviously suicide prevention speaking, and the TEDx have allowed me as a comedian to move that forward by helping me with the rebrand to give people the idea that yes, you can say something serious, talk about something serious, but it’s a lot more digestible if you have a laugh or two in there.
Austin: And we’re so glad that you’re here to share that too, for our listeners to know that there’s always somebody out there that you can talk to even if it’s us. If you’re listening to this, you probably know us. Come talk to us, get help if you need it. This is an important discussion.
Frank: Can I give you one last thing that I think kills a lot of TEDx applications?
Taylorr: Yeah, why not?
Max: Yeah, go for it.
Frank: A lack of creativity and that can come from hiring the wrong coach. A friend of mine hired another coach before I met her for a tremendous amount of money and they cobbled together an application, basically application that you could use to fill in the blanks on because the questions repeat. And she called me, she goes, Frank I’ve applied 80 times. 80? 80. Nothing, no auditions, no booking. So, I said well, let me see the stuff they created for you. And it was okay, all the I’s dotted all the T’s crossed, but it didn’t really sing, so I said do you mind if I work it over? She goes no. I worked it over, within five applications she got TEDx Boston.
It’s all about the title, subtitle, elevator pitch, description, if we can hook them with the title and make it some… it should it be something where you don’t quite understand the title so you have to read the subtitle to get it explained to you, and then the idea seems good enough, you read the description. And then after that, you want to read the next paragraph, which is usually why is this the person to deliver that? And if I can get them there, then there’s a good chance you’ll get an audition. The last two talks I did, this is where creativity comes in and hiring the right coach. The second last talk I did was called Suicide: The Secret to My Success, Counterintuitive, Interesting, Dead Man Talking, which is a play on words, the movie Dead Man Walking and I got that. They called me and I go audition? They go no, you’re on. Okay, I’ll skip the audition, thanks. The next one, the last one I did TEDx Durango, Colorado. The title was Mental Health and The Orgasm: Treat Your Depression Single-handedly.
Frank: I had to apply 16 times because I knew not every curation team is going to like that idea, but somebody is going to really like it. And sure enough, I got a phone call and they said listen, Frank and I said do you want me to audition? They go no, no you’re on, we’ll see you in Durango. So, it occurred to me after that, that’s sort of the linchpin of the process is having somebody working with you who can create things like that, you know, 20 years with The Tonight Show 34 years with The Comic, who can create something that will grab them by the lapels and not let go until you get the audition. So, I think that really is the heart of what I do, is that creative element.
Taylorr: Well, that’s fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing that, Frank and it’s honestly been just such a pleasure to have you on today. For everyone listening, Frank has been nice enough to give us, a PDF, a downloadable Six Things That’ll Kill Your Chances at Landing A TEDx Talk. So, feel free to go grab that in the show notes, there will be a link below, and if you want more awesome resources like this, don’t forget to subscribe and go to speakerflow.com/resources.
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