Saturday, January 21, 2017

5 Things I Learned from Doing a TEDx Talk

Last year I did a TEDx talk. Being selected to do one was easy. On January 5th, I wrote on my bucket list that I wanted to do a TEDx talk. Near the end of that same month I got an unsolicited email asking if I would like to do a TEDx talk. I still had to be interviewed and selected from other potential speakers but getting to be asked to do one was the easy part. Performing it wasn’t.

I could have easily put together a talk on the power of humor since I’ve been speaking and writing about therapeutic humor for over twenty-years. But because this was going to be a high school audience, and because of the way the invitation to do the talk came to me so easily, I decided to speak about how our thoughts and intentions create our reality.

I put together examples of how that happened over and over in my life along with the five ways the audience can harness their power of intention too. I had never done this talk before and since I would not have any notes, as I usually do in other talks, it was a challenge to memorize it. But I did and was confident that all would go well. That was true until I got on stage to rehearse.

The large stage was flooded with bright lights blinding me from seeing anyone in the audience. I’m not accustomed to speaking to a black hole. In the middle of the rehearsal I went totally blank and forgot the rest of my talk. That threw me but it also made me realize that I needed to take charge of the situation. Once I did, all went extremely well. It also taught me five things that I’d like to share with you.

1-  Control the Environment
After having the negative “black hole” experience during the rehearsal, I asked for the houselights to be turned on during my talk. Unfortunately, the staff forget to do that so after a few minutes, I stopped what I was saying and asked for the audience lights to be turned on. It made all the difference in the world.

2- Get in the Mood
The two speakers before me sat in the audience and walked up to the stage after their introduction. I found this boring and not in keeping with the uplifting mood I wanted to create for my talk. I therefore decided to crouch down and hide behind the large TEDx sign on stage and make my entrance from there. I’m not sure the audience got it but this playful way of entering gave me an inner chuckle that got me started on a lighter note and helped me sustain that energy throughout the talk.

3- Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway
After going blank during the rehearsal, my mind was questioning why I ever wanted to do a TEDx talk. It was telling me that I was going to forget what I was going to say and look like a fool. I had to stop this negative fear-based thinking. So, I went outside and meditated, centered myself and repeatedly did positive thoughts affirming that the talk would be a success. And it was. In fact, it was the only talk of the day that got three rounds of spontaneous applause.
            Sometimes we need to feel the fear and do it anyway. It can be one of the most powerful ways we grow and know that we can overcome our fears and perhaps accomplish greater things than we ever thought possible.

4- Get Support
I thought about doing a TEDx talk long before I put it on my bucket list. But I didn’t know exactly how to go about it. So, I asked one person who had done two of them. He gave me great advice and told me the steps I needed to take to apply and be considered by some of the local TEDx events in my area. Fortunately, I didn’t need to do that since the TEDx event found me. (see the beginning of the article)
            Once I was selected to do the talk, I also interviewed a colleague of mine who had done a TEDx talk and asked him what was one of the most important things he learned from doing the talk. He gave me several good ideas but one that I would never have thought about, and one that made my final product so much better, was the next item. (See #5)

5- View the Video Before It’s Posted on YouTube
I asked the organizers to let me see the video of the talk before they posted it on YouTube. I was glad I did. They did a decent job of editing but it also left a lot to be desired. Among other things, they left in the part where I asked the house lights to be turned on, and, they never showed the slides that the live audience saw that illustrated the points I was making. Some of the things, like those two items, I could correct. Some, like the close-up camera not working at the beginning of the talk, I could not. Nevertheless, I hired a professional to make the changes we could and the results was a much superior product.

That’s what learned from doing a TEDx talk. And here is where you can see the final version of "create the world you want’:

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