As an author, blogger, media-entertainment entrepreneur and Christian, giving a TEDx talk was definitely on my bucket list of things to do. But how to make that happen always escaped me as did what exactly I would talk about. Those answers came to me shortly following the release of my latest book, a work that, I believe, God needed me to write in order to help shepherd so many women struggling with loneliness and singlehood, currently, down the right path.
Looking for ways to market the book, my thoughts turned to TEDx; or might I say, the book dragged me there, not unusual as it seemed to have a life of its own from the very start. Hence, I began to comb the internet for upcoming TEDx conferences and after perusing a bunch of locations and themes, I settled upon a few and then began to apply. The form was all that you would expect it to be, plus two other sensible questions — What would I talk about and why?
Prayer and Preparation
I settled upon an idea that revealed itself to me during multiple book signings and subsequent conversations with female readers, encompassed by the phrase, “Don’t wait for the right guy to come along to truly begin to live.” This was a needed talk that had not yet been offered by TEDx, fitting the “uniqueness” factor required by the organization and every talk. And so with the press of a few keys and the download of a quick two minute video of myself, I became a TEDx contender. I then prayed.
Three days later, the team at TEDxWilmingtonLive contacted me with the news that I was a serious candidate, asking if I would be available on the scheduled conference dates. My positive response resulted in a formal invitation along with a TEDx speaker contract and a ton of reading material. I spent many days, thereafter, considering a variety of approaches to my talk. I finally settled upon the use of my own personal story to lay the groundwork for the advice, lesson, and eventual “call to action” all TED and TEDx talks withhold.
A seasoned writer and having approximately 11 minutes to complete my talk, I knew I had to work along a thread to reign my thoughts in and meet my timeline. “Easy,” it was not. I can’t tell you how many versions of my talk I cranked out nor how many TEDx talks I watched prior to submitting my first pass to the TEDxWilmingtonLIVE team.
The response was a very helpful critique followed by the refashioning of my script several times further, a task that proved to be a piece of cake in comparison to the effort I put in when naming my TEDx talk, “What’s She Got That I Don’t?” Admittedly, it was tougher than naming my first-born child, with brevity and appeal at the center of the choice I had to make. After all, the sexiness of the title correlated directly with demand and viewership. It had to be good.
The final version of the script I wrote resulted in a profound TEDx talk that compelled audience members to corner me offstage with words of enormous praise and gratitude. The technique was formidable. Choosing to suggest a physical change in the audience’s natural listening postures, I then wrapped them in the words of a highly romantic poem. This opening would lead to the sharing of some very intimate details of my own life. That combination proved to be quite effective in drawing the audience in and vesting them. It was then that I was able to offer the intended lesson as well as the pertinent advice I had planned to give then pose my “call to action,” none of which would have worked had my delivery been sub-par.
Study and Practice
I did hire an acting coach and I also spent a great deal of time studying how my own Pastor – Pastor Doug Dry of Christ Chapel – conducted Sunday Worship services, which was incredibly beneficial in helping me to remember the importance of remaining centered, calm, engaging and upbeat when endeavoring to connect with the audience. This led me to my decision to videotape myself for the purposes of perfecting my performance as well as helping me in the memorization of my talk.
Believe me when I tell you, I practiced non-stop. I especially found it helpful to listen to my talk as well as watch it via the video I had created on my phone while running on my treadmill each morning. I also found that reciting my talk while swimming in the pool when on vacation was also quite beneficial. I felt that if I could give my talk while doing other rigorous activities, I could give my talk while standing still and faced with an audience. By the time dress rehearsal arrived, I had my talk down cold, although my nervousness would have indicated otherwise.
Realizing that I was not there by chance, however, but that God had opened that door for me for a reason, a big part of what kept me sane and unwavering throughout the entire adventure was reciting to myself scripture, specifically Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” I kept these words with me at all times, scribbled on a small piece of paper within arms reach. They were the last words I read prior to assuming the stage for my final performance.
It took about a month and a half for the TED organization to approve and upload my talk onto Youtube. My life has been surreal ever since. I don’t know how better to explain it than by urging you to find out for yourself. The process will test you, at a minimum, and quite possibly catapult you to a whole new professional realm in the best of all circumstances.Good Luck and Godspeed!
Photo by Joe del Tufo, Moonloop Photography