Quite frankly, it felt like I was going through a hurricane.
Potential storm brewing
Initially, there was a call for speakers listed for our TEDx event, for which I was referred by a friend at our local public radio affiliate.
I figured it was a long shot – why would they pick me? – so I drafted up something from my phone (and didn’t even save it) , sent it in and promptly forgot about it.
The storm gets named
A few months later, I received an email that said:
“Congratulations! You’re one of our speakers.”
I was suddenly excited in that same way you get when you are when you are anticipating starting a new project – it was a happy excited.
I then calculated out the actual amount of time I’d have to work on it based on my schedule from now until the performance date, and turned into that “Let’s go down to the store and buy every gallon of water they have and damn everyone else” kind of excited.
The storm approaches
I had already written my abstract as part of the initial selection, so I just had to write the talk. Writing isn’t hard for me, so I literally just sat down and did it. Then I asked a few people to check it over for content (not grammar.)
With a few minor (and one major) tweaks, I had my talk ready to go.
Then came the difficult part – memorization.
TED and TEDx talks need to be “Happy Birthday Level Memorized.”
You can tell when they aren’t.
Plus, I was going slideless, so nothing to prompt me to keep talking if I froze up.
No other way to do it – I just sat down and memorized.
Here is where my brain works against me – I have a tremendous capacity for recall, but the way I do it is by storing things in kind of a “cluster” system.
I don’t put words directly next to each other usually – but I knew this was a skill I once had, so I tapped into It – and soon I had the words coming out exactly as written.
But I sounded like Siri giving directions.
I got so freaked out about emoting and making self speak these words I’d written as naturally as I meant them that I made myself sick.
Physically, feverishly, requiring antibiotics-level sick.
I couldn’t concentrate.
I basically slept the entire week before the event.
The eye of the storm
And then came the dress rehearsal.
I got out there, started talking – naturally! It was fine! People laughed, and smiled, and sighed, and gasped in all the right places.
Such a relief.
I was feeling pretty calm about the whole thing.
OhMyGod OhMyGod OhMyGod
It’s today it’s today it’s today.
My dress doesn’t fit. My eye pencil keeps breaking. My dress keeps wrinkling…
What is the bit that goes after that other bit again?
OhMyGod OhMyGod OhMyGod
Everyone before me is so GOOD. How am I going to be as good as them?!?!?!?
“…Welcome Heather Wilde. (applause)”
“When I was 18 years old…”
After the storm
Like every storm, it left some damage but it also gave me some areas for improvement. There was a predictable path that went somewhat off course near the end there, but it came together anyway.
It was a lot of work.
It is not something to enter into lightly.
I am thrilled to have been a part of it and I would consider doing something like it again if I could make the schedule work.
Originally Posted: https://www.quora.com/What-is-it-like-to-speak-at-a-TEDx-event
Originally Posted On: 2016-04-09