What an amazing experience and a privilege it was. My first TEDX is now behind me (Yes, I intend to do another!) and I learned a lot. I want to share the lessons with you.
I am a speaker and a writer. I have written dozens of talks. I am pretty good at it. However, TEDX is such a profound privilege and the design in unique, I decided to hire someone to help me write the talk.
I googled TED speech writers/coaches, I did a search on LinkedIn. Ultimately, after researching what I found, I settled on 3 potential parties. I emailed. The response was wildly different and very telling. I received an enthusiastic response from the first person. We hoped on a call and I felt like she understood who I was, what I needed and what I wanted. Then I got her written proposal. It was shocking. It was way more than I asked for, and felt I needed and seemed more like the program she uses for a new speaker- kind of a plug and play. So, not for me. Lesson here for people proposing something, stay true to what you say verbally- you lose credibility if you don’t.
Next, I sent emails with an esteemed TEDX producer’s assistant. This one was shocking. She was rude and arrogant when I said I wanted to talk to the person herself before signing up to work with her. I thought, the producer may not know that her assistant is behaving this way. When I reached out to her to let her know (because… don’t step over a gnat’s ass!), basically she said good luck to you. I concluded that she had the assistant she had to match her own arrogance. Next….
Then, I spoke with Tricia Brouk of The Big Talk NYC and in 5 minutes I knew she was exactly what I had been looking for. Here is what made the difference: She listened to me as a person, as a professional speaker and as a master of my craft. She customized her work to what I needed. She gave me her gift in that first call. I trust my intuition and it did not fail me here! She taught me that the TEDX is a gift. That one statement is so important to me as I am a contributor in life and I felt like my talk was so important. The nuances she had me discover opened avenues that I will continue to use as I speak in the future. I felt like there was not one wasted or unimportant word in the final product. That was a gift to me… and, my curse (more on that in a minute!) The lesson here was hire someone who has not only the experience you lack but someone who can bring a new perspective to you and one who ‘gets’ you. That lesson helped with the slides too- as I am not graphically inclined, but I know others who are who helped me. The other lesson is always ask for support, people love to support you!
Preparation: Lots of lessons here.
I have always been uber conscientious about being well prepared. Given what a privilege it is to speak, be listened to and influence people, I relate to it as critical and honoring, so I prepare and prepare and then prepare some more. I still recommend it and will continue to do it whenever I am speaking or leading a workshop or being one on one with my clients. However, I now know there is something called ‘over practiced’. I was over practiced. I also got stuck on every single word mattered so much so that I forgot some of them! It was this phenomenon I want to share… I got so attached to each word mattered that instead of being with people, I worried about forgetting… which then triggered my own brain threat reaction which caused forgetting. UGH!
The reality is… the people in the audience did not know (except those who had been helping me practice) and my gift was received and made a difference. I had an older woman come up to me at the end and take my hand in both of hers to thank me, tell me she always automatically apologizes and has taught her daughter that apologizing is polite (which I shared a study that shows this is a source of the automatic reflexive apologetic power draining behavior). She told me she was calling her daughter to tell her to stop doing that and to not teach her kids to apologize for everything. There were other incidents as well and I have heard from people in the weeks since how they are noticing automatic apologizing and interrupting it in themselves and others. So, my job got done. I am thrilled about that.
What I am not thrilled about is it was not my best performance. It was very good, but not great. I know the source of that was simply I got stuck on every word had to be said and I let that be the thing that I had my eye on. If I had my eye on what I was there for, to give the gift to each and every person, it would have been different. Lesson learned.
Now, on to the next one.
Learn the lesson and move on.