With the advent of LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as other social media and professional networking sites, we can now define for ourselves who we are as far as our public profiles are concerned— or at the very least, who we’d like to be.
Back in they day, when people were given a title (accountant, clerk, office manager), the title stuck. Creative interpretations of a job description really didn’t fly. “No, I’m not a barista. I’m a coffee designer in a café startup.”
These days, thanks to our online profiles, we can define ourselves, and our job titles however we bloody want. To this end, I’m going to show you how to fake a TED talk. (Great for killer profiles.)
Don’t worry. You won’t actually have to talk about business or technology trends or some deeply rooted social phenomena at an honest-to-goodness TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. All you have to do is drop enough hints into your Linkedin or Twitter profile to make it look like you’re the type of person who would speak at a TED event. Faking it has never been easier.
With just four simple steps, you’ll be able to get your online profiles in tip-top shape. Why would you want to do this, you may be wondering? For fun, for work, for prestige, or perhaps because you’re a habitual fibber. The reasons really don’t matter to me. What you’re trying to do here is convince the rest of the world that you’re a crowd-enthralling guru worthy of “guest speaker” status — even if you’re not.
Get an I.D. Badge
If you don’t have an I.D. badge, you can’t be an official speaker, now can you? This one is a simple fix. You can make your own badge I.D. badge online or in Photoshop, get it laminated at a copy store and then hang it around your neck with a colorful lanyard. If that seems like too much work (you really aren’t cut out for an informative talk, are you?), borrow a friend’s I.D. and simply blur it out later after you take the all-important photo.
The Business Casual Look
Don’t wear you best business outfit. If you spend your time thinking about the perfect get-up, you’re not dreaming about the future. Any TED speaker worth his or her salt needs to spend a lot of time pondering the “what ifs” of life. Business-casual is the look you want to cultivate. Stylish, but effortless. Chic, but not snobby. This isn’t your prom night or wedding day. Keep those fancy gowns at home.
Hopefully you’ve spoken at some event at some point in your life. If not, go and talk to some children about your job, give a one-minute speech at a luncheon, address the city council about a zoning issue or give a wedding toast. Good, not that you have “public speaking” under you belt, it’s time to dress that “speech” up just a tad.
Did you talk to a class of kindergartners? Great, now you can say that you “spoke to a gathering of potential leaders.” Gave a wedding toast? That’s wonderful, because you “spoke at an official event facilitating a long-term merger.” It’s not bullsh*t if you know how to sell it. It’s just good marketing.
The Clinching Photo
Clinching, not clenching. This is where all of the previous steps come together. You’ll need a photo that clinches everything into one simple, yet telling, image that encapsulates who you are as a fake TED (or similar type of conference) speaker.
Get a microphone, your I.D. badge, your business casual attire as well as some kind of stage or professional looking backdrop. Don’t worry about a crowd. This photo is all about you. Pop into a hotel lobby or conference room, or perhaps a stage at the local community college and have a friend surreptitiously take photos of you speaking into the mic and gesturing meaningfully to a non-existent crowd. If you didn’t manage to get your own I.D. badge, slightly blur the words and image of the badge you stole… I meant borrowed in Photoshop after the photo shoot.
Now you’re all set. Load your “TED” photos onto Linkedin and Twitter, put something about “speaker at educational merger conferences for future leaders” and now people will believe — while not really understanding what it is you do — that you’re a lot smarter than you actually are.
(Apologies if you’re an authentic genius, but then again, if that’s the case, I’m surprised you read this article to the end.)