Earlier this month I gave my first TEDx talk.
In case you’re like my mom and unfamiliar with TED talks, here’s a quick explanation (when I told her about it, her first reaction was, “Who’s Ted?”).
TED isn’t a who, it’s an acronym that represents the convergence of technology, entertainment and design. It’s also the three-letter name of a US-based conference that first took place in 1984 and has since grown into a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading ideas in the form of “short, powerful talks.”
To date, more than 13,000 TED and TEDx events (locally produced) have been held in 150 countries. The presentations should be provocative, inspiring and innovative. They must be performed in front of a live audience in 18 minutes or less. Each presentation is uploaded online, with some receiving tens of millions of views.
With its enduring recognition and impact, “giving a TED Talk” has become a rite of passage for scientists, business leaders, athletes, public speakers, and anyone else interested in sharing something they’re passionate about.
If you’ve ever imagined what it could be like or dreamed of delivering one yourself, now I’ll share my adventure with you. If you have already given one, please message me! I’m dedicating the month of April to a number of TED speakers and the useful information from their talks, so I’d love to hear from you too. Here are some questions I was asked and my answers.
Q. How does one become a TEDx speaker?
A You can apply or be invited. I was invited.
About eighteen months ago, I received an email from another speaker I shared the stage with at a conference in Bulgaria in 2019. He had just been approved by the TED bigwigs to host a local TEDx event in the UK. “I really liked how you connected with the audience,” he said. “Would you consider attending our event?”
“Of course,” I replied.
To apply, you can browse the list of upcoming TEDx events on TED.com. Make sure your topic is relevant to the local community hosting the event and the topic they may have chosen. If you have a video of yourself, add that as well.
Q. How did you come up with your topic?
A As you all know, I am passionate about holistic personal and professional growth. I decided to explore the tension between self-improvement and self-acceptance. my title was The Myth of Authenticity.
Q. How did you write your presentation?
A I’ve dedicated a folder to collect any quote, story, statistic, or metaphor that I happen to think of or come across. That was easy. The hard part was sitting down and trying to organize the different parts into a coherent and hopefully interesting presentation that would take me less than 18 minutes to present.
Six weeks before the event, I finally had something I was (relatively) happy with. I submitted it to the organizers along with the accompanying slides. But then, unexpectedly, I was introduced to a “TED Coach” just two weeks before my presentation. She encouraged me to expand here, delete there. And when I got on my plane I had an updated version that I was much happier with.
Q. How did you practice?
A Since I was revising my script at the last minute, this was difficult. I had memorized sections, but I hadn’t memorized my new sections and my flow was pretty much off. I was nervous arriving at the venue on a Monday night. Live presentation day was Wednesday.
Q. Were you able to rehearse on stage?
A Yes. Apparently not all TEDx events offer a trial day. Thank goodness ours. The next day, Tuesday, I walked onto this iconic circular red carpet with the spotlight shining on me. And even the memorized lines seemed to disappear. After the rehearsal, I knew very well that I needed to invest a lot more time in learning my script. But I really didn’t have that time.
Q. Were you nervous?
A Yes. Knowing I hadn’t memorized my script the night before filled me with anxiety, guilt and the desire to run away! Luckily, I was the last speaker at the event, so when I woke up on Wednesday, I decided to spend the morning locked in my room, forcing myself to practice this script out loud, over and over. For three full hours I did nothing but clear my doubts and draw in the words. By lunchtime I was confident I had it. I went to the venue.
Q. What happened at your presentation?
A I haven’t forgotten a single word. The audience laughed in all the right places. I walked away feeling like I made it. Then the cameraman came backstage while the audience was still applauding. “Your earring clicked against your headset mic and I think you should do it again so the recording is clean.” Again. In an empty theatre. I nearly cried. But I really had no choice. Luckily, some of my wonderful co-hosts and organizers decided to take their seats and I went through it a second time. It wasn’t the same, but I did the best I could under the circumstances.
The final version of my presentation will be uploaded in a few weeks. I don’t expect to go viral, but am I glad I did? Of course I am. It’s a rite of passage.
https://www.independent.ie/business/how-to-go-about-sharing-your-own-inspiring-new-idea-in-a-tedx-talk-41489081.html How to share your own inspiring new idea in a TEDx Talk