It was everything I wanted. I took to the stage, very prepared, ready to deliver my idea worth spreading. You could hear a pin drop. I started, people were with me, paying attention, nodding, smiling. At one point they broke out in applause, requiring me to pause. My mic dropped for a brief moment, I said something, started that part over (so they could edit it out for uploading!) and got a raucous applause when it was over (with some people standing!). I was the first speaker of the day, the event opener. I stayed throughout the day sitting and supporting and cheering on every subsequent speaker. It was so fulfilling. I learned so much that I want to share.

First lesson- the organizer’s matter. I had no idea that the organizers are so critical- I guess I was a bit naïve. I expected anyone hosting a TEDX to do it brilliantly. I was wrong. The first TEDX I did, the organizers did not do a good job- they tried and I don’t mean to diss them, but they did not do what was needed to produce an extraordinary TEDX event. Second time- the organizers, known as The 3 Belles- Myrna King and Chelle Honiker did an amazing job. They followed the TED rules, they had coaches on scripts, speaking, presentation. They provided hair and makeup on the day of the event. They held 3 dress rehearsals. They were champions of each and every speaker. They created an event that was fun and engaging. They had 3 sections, musical acts, carefully curated videos and curated talks. It was inspiring and consistently good! The volunteers were generous with their time and so fun to work with. And.. I will assume, the videos will reflect it all. It was an honor to work with them.

Second lesson-preparation matters immensely. I was always a ‘queen of preparation’. As a professional speaker who has spoken publicly for 23 years, I know that when I am prepared fully, I can relax and then really be with people ensuring my message lands, permeates their minds and makes a lasting difference. I always spend significant time and effort preparing. That said, I was not prepared at the level I needed to be for the first TEDX. I was this time. Don’t get me wrong- I practiced. I worked with my coach, Tricia Brouk, on the speech content, the context and intention of every sentence. I held live practices. I practiced in the mirror and outloud many, many times. However, for that first one, I still had a concern I would forget something midway… which I did. I was not as present as I should have been. It was good, but it definitely was not my best. Contrast it to this TEDX- I worked with my coach on the speech content, I attended dress rehearsals, I did 5 in person practices, I did ~20 zoom practices, I did mirror work, I said it aloud no less than 100 times. I got feedback from each zoom or in person practice and dress rehearsal and I incorporated the feedback. I changed a word or two, I changed the pacing, I changed when and where I walked. I knew it flat. I knew when I took that stage, I had something important to say and I was going to have them get it, be impacted by it and have it make a lasting difference. And I performed consistent with my preparation.

I left the day satisfied and fulfilled, clear I had accomplished what I intended to. The lessons learned from the first paid off in the second.

That is the most important thing when things don’t go as well as you want them to, what is the lesson and how will it impact the future. I am always glad for life’s lessons.