Delivering a Ted X talk: Telling it like it is

Jo Verrent speaking animatedly at the TED x talkLast Thursday I was in Dublin, giving a TEDx talk for TEDx Tallaght – even just writing that makes me feel a bit proud, a bit smug. I’ve watched TED talks for years – and find them fun, inspirational, quirky and short (all good things in my book).

I’ll post a link to my talk when its ready – but this is really about the prep and the delivery. How it felt to get my head round it and then stand up there to do it.

For TED-virgins, TED is a concept where ‘ideas worth spreading’ are distilled into 10, 15 or 18 minute presentations given by a variety of presenters – basically, no one gets longer and this keeps the talks fresh, watchable and, well, spreadable. They happen at real events, but the power of TED is that they are also filmed and spread through social media. Perfect for commuters or those odd gaps in the day. They are quite addictive.

So I’ve wanted to do one for ages, and got my chance – so how did I prepare? Well – lets just say things didn’t go to plan. I had booked off various time in my diary to rehearse but, as usual, things got a little squeezed so it got reduced. I’d sent my slides off and had the basic structure but I needed to spread some time actually rehearsing, working out what I’d say and not say so I put aside a train journey whilst I travelled to and from a meeting. Perfect, I thought. Just sit there and I’ll have an hour plus each way to get it sorted.

Perfect – until I forgot to get off a connecting train. And had to go back to the station I started at. And get in the car. And bomb down the motorway for an hour to get to the meeting instead.

But actually it was perfect. On the train I still would have had a chance to procrastinate. To do something else – check my phone, read a book. In the car, I could do nothing else but drive. Nothing else but actually say stuff out loud that I might include to see how it felt. So that’s what I did. All the way there and all the way back. Talked to myself – out loud.

And so when it came to the talk itself, it was great. I felt confident and at ease. I knew what I was saying so I could just get on with the fun of saying it and not faff too much. I knew exactly what it felt like to talk for ten minutes – no more, no less – as I had timed myself in the car.

Loved it. When its ready I’ll bung a link up here and you can tell me what you think!

The other speakers were a wide-ranging lot – read on for a bit of info on each of them:

  • Maureen Gaffney, author of Flourishing,  talking about ‘The Science of Art and Crafting your Story’ – how we are responsible for the stories we tell ourselves, and where we place ourselves in our own narrative. Did you know you man bump along ok if you have three positive interactions for every negative one, each day,  but it takes five positive interactions to every one negative one to really make you thrive?
  • Paul Lee‘s talk was on ‘3D Superhero: Unleashing your creativity in Sketch Up’. Sketch Up is amazing and this talk showed just how amazing – usable by graphic designers, architects, artists and school kids, we’ll quickly be moving into a world where we design stuff and print it out in 3D instantly at home. Basically, don’t ask what it does and doesn’t do, ask how you can use it to do anything you want it to?
  • PR Smith, another author. told us how ‘Sportsmanship Can Save the World’. From Nelson Mandela’s quote – ‘sport has the power to change the world, to inspire, to unite people in a way that little else can’ and using tale after tale of sportsmanship, honesty and integrity within sport, this talk showed how the impact of such stories can transform how people act away from the pitch, field or stadium.
  • Catriona Crowe talked us through the social effects of the Irish 1911 Census online in her talk ‘Archives and the Citizen’ – reclaiming history and reminding us all that its there for the taking, it belongs to everyone. The personal stories of people unravel through the data – the woman who commemorated her dead children by listing them in her Census return; the man who included his dog as part of his family…
  • Michael Rossney spoke about how to ‘Change Your Story, Change Your Life!’ A life coach, he encouraged us to find people around us who saw our futures more positively than we did – we need them to push us forwards.
  • And finally, a speedy run through of massive life-challenging content by Cathal Garvey talking about ‘Cypherpunks and Biohackers: Remaking the Oldest Technology with Lessons from the Newest’. He reminded us how far we now are from what we eat and use within the way we live our lives – we rarely make our own stuff anymore. A real reminder to reclaim our own solutions – and the importance of freeing up the methods for all.
Big night, loads of things to mull on, and pretty nice wine and chocolates after. Lovely.
Photo by Tedxtallaght and remember if you have enjoyed this and want to read more, you can subscribe to Jo Verrent’s blog by email.

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