How Much Does It Cost to Be a TED Talks Member or Speaker?

TED Talks officially began in 1984 as a conference where “technology, entertainment and design converged,” according to TED’s website. When the organization decided to upload taped talks to the internet in 2006 as an experiment, they never expected the videos to go viral.

Now TED Talks are viewed 1.5 million times a day and TED has allows independent organizers to expand the name and concept with TEDx Talks, which opens the door local events all over the world.

The cost of TED membership

Watching TED Talks online is free, but what if you want to go to a live conference? Well, start pinching your pennies because to attend live conferences you must be a TED Conference Standard member, which costs $8,500 a year. Even so, conference seats sell out very quickly.

Why would anyone pay that much for a TED membership? For starters, $6,000 of that fee is tax-deductible. Second, many want to support and further the efforts of free talks and events. Third, membership includes access to online social networking on the TED Conference private social network.

Does it cost anything to be a TED speaker?

There is no cost to be a TED speaker, and no money to be made. Speakers aren’t paid, but lodging and transportation are covered, as well as access to the full event, some meals and events, and other special benefits.

Many speakers and professionals are invited by TED organizers to pitch their ideas. This is what happened to Joseph Liu, the host of the Career Relaunch Podcast. He delivered a TEDx Talk called “Reshaping the Story of Your Career” at TEDx Cardiff in 2014.

A TEDx Cardiff organizer reached out to Joseph after she saw him talk at the MarketingWeek Live conference in London. Joseph then had to walk the organizers through his ideas and share a presentation draft with them before he was officially invited to give the talk.

“My motivation to give a TEDx Talk had absolutely nothing to do with being paid a speaking fee,” says Joseph. “I speculate most TEDx speakers would respond similarly because the opportunity to give a TEDx that can reach so many people is already a unique privilege.”

“I wanted to share a meaningful, personal story that could hopefully have a positive impact on others in their careers,” he explains. While Joseph cannot precisely pinpoint the impact that the TEDx talk has had on his career, it has definitely given him an extra stamp of credibility. He says, “It’s not uncommon for prospective clients and business partners to discover me by seeing my talk online.”

Credit Sesame’s Top 5 Favorite TED Talks About Money

If giving a TED talk isn’t on your agenda, then soak up the benefits of expert advice delivered in 18 minutes or less. Here are our five favorite TED Talks to get you thinking about your finances and career in a new light.

1. One Life-Changing Class You Never Took by Alexa von Tobel


Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest, talks about how important personal finance is through a fictional character named Jessica. In her talk, Alexa says, “[Jessica] doesn’t know that good financial planning recommends that 50% of her money that she takes home goes towards essentials, 30% towards life style, and 20% towards the future. That’s really key, 20% towards her future savings.”

Alexa also addresses why Jessica and everyone else should stop thinking debt is a normal occurrence just because majority of Americans carry some. She tells how Jessica’s bad financial decisions early in life domino for the rest of her life and cause negative outcomes, including a higher possibility of divorce.

2. Why You Should Know How Much Your Coworkers Get Paid by David Burkus


Management researcher David Burkus addresses the uncomfortable topic of income transparency. He says, “It turns out that pay transparency — sharing salaries openly across a company — makes for a better workplace for both the employee and for the organization.” David also shares that most workers feel underpaid, even if they earn a market value salary.

3. Why 2.5 Billion Heartbeats Might Change the Way You Think About Money by Preet Banerjee


Preet Banerjee, personal finance expert, probably has the most interesting resume considering he was trained as a neuroscientist and also had a brief stint as a race car driver.

In his talk he says, “We need to start hating debt again.” Preet is talking about credit card debt. He argues that credit card debt is causing us to hurt our future selves.

4. A Rich Life with Less Stuff by The Minimalists


Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are known as “The Minimalists” whose blog is read by more than two million readers. In their TEDx Talk, both men share that even though they earned more each year, they never felt truly rich. “Even though I earned a lot of money, I had heaps of debt,” explains Ryan. “Chasing the American dream cost me a lot more than money. My life was filled with stress, and anxiety, and discontent.” It wasn’t until they embraced the idea of less stuff did they start to feel financially free.

5. How to Make Hard Choices by Ruth Chang


With money comes choice, both easy and hard. Some choices that plague you might be, “Should I stay at the job I like or try a new position where I might make more?” Or “Should I invest in this amazing opportunity or pay off debt?” When it comes to money, no one wants to make a bad choice.

“So when we face hard choices, we shouldn’t beat our head against a wall trying to figure out which alternative is better,” Ruth says. “There is no best alternative. Instead of looking for reasons out there, we should be looking for reasons in here: Who am I to be?”

Not everyone needs to be a successful businessperson. Being a debt-free artist that lives on the road is the right lifestyle for some. Figure out who you want to be financially and make choices based on that truth.

Whether you pay the $8,500 to attend a live TED conference or stream older talks live, everyone should experience at least one TED Talk.

Do you have a TED experience to share? Tweet us @CreditSesame.

Featured image by Claire Kern.

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved.
Published February 3, 2017
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