For the last week leading up to the event, we were going to be working one-on-one with a speaking coach to fine-tune our idea and presentation. Having no slides, I began to look for images that I could use in my presentation. I broke up my talk and began associating images with slides. I knew that slides would help illustrate my points to the audience, though I had underestimated how much slides would help me further conceptualize and expand my talk. With the images punctuating sections of the talk, the task of memorizing became less daunting.
The week of the talk: I had my last one-on-one meeting with my assigned speaking coach where I ran through the talk with my slides. I had two sessions and found both extremely helpful; my coach provided feedback, while maintaining the stance of “it’s your talk, do what works for you”. I made final tweaks and edits and sent off my presentation to the volunteer audio/visual coordinator. Whew! I spent the rest of the week preparing mentally.
The night before the event, everyone met at the theater for dress rehearsal and to make sure there were no glitches in our slides. We practiced taking our time walking on, and waiting graciously through applause we gave one another. These are the kinds of details that as a speaker you don’t realize you need to practice unless you do it professionally, or you’ve seen yourself on film practically run on and off stage after giving a presentation of some kind. This was the level of detail the organizing team had this process down to; we were in excellent hands the whole time! Our rehearsal didn’t take long; the organizing team wished us a good night’s sleep and sent us home.
Upon arrival the next day, everyone convened for final outfit approval and schedule run-down in the green room. Our nerves were palpable; those who had experience speaking were a bit cooler and than the rest of us. Regardless of experience, we were all excited and nervous for each other, having seen each other’s ideas take shape. Months of anticipation and weeks of preparation were about to be put to the test. After exchanging well wishes, those speaking in the second half made their way to the auditorium and to meet friends and family members. The rest of us were left to prep.
I watched the monitors as the first two speakers did an exceptional job on their talks, and waited nervously backstage for my turn. I was practicing power poses, trying to stay calm and confident, but it felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. Finally, it was my turn…
As the applause started, I went through a mental checklist: I got my main points across, laughed with the audience, and didn’t fall; mission accomplished! Then something happened… people started standing! Words don’t seem to touch how grateful and humbled I felt in that moment. I continued to ride the grateful and humble high throughout lunch and the rest of the afternoon as attendees approached me to express gratitude or have a conversation about my topic and the day. Two young women even asked for my autograph! I felt honored to have had the opportunity to be involved with the community in this way.
At the end of the day, I found feedback boards where the organizers had posed questions at the top of sections of paper-covered wall and asked attendees to write their answers on post-its and stick them on the wall. Under the sections “What was your ah-ha moment?” and “What action are you going to take based on what you heard?” I found post-it after post-it that made reference to white-space or multi-tasking and my heart felt… full. I had done what I had set out to do: impact one person positively (and then some based on the feedback)!
Being a part of TEDx Temecula was an incredible experience! I can’t express enough gratitude to the organizing team, volunteers, and other speakers! If you have an idea you want to share, apply to speak at TEDx Temecula 2016 here.
Didn’t catch this series from the beginning? Find TEDx Temecula – Part I here.