I was asked at the beginning of this year to be one of the speakers at the Tedx Conference in Truro on 9th September. Having loved Ted talks for about 12 months now, I immediately said yes and being in Cornwall, the conference felt very relevant to me. For those of you who don’t know about Ted talks yet, you are in for a treat. The initials stand for Technology, Education and Design and when the talks first started this what they were about, now however, they can be on a wide range of subjects . There are so many available on line You Tube or I often download a podcast to hear whilst I am walking the dogs or driving my girls back to school. They are incredibly varied, educational, inspirational, thought provoking or just down right funny.
The main Ted body is in California and they organize regular Ted events. There are also a growing number of Tedx conferences that take place around the world. Anyone can organize one, but first you need to apply for a licence from Ted themselves. Mandy and James Reynolds decided to organize their own Tedx conference and what a brilliant job they did. It was incredibly professionally run, from our initial meeting to our numerous rehearsals to the event itself.
There were 8 speakers in total and then 3 actual Ted talks shown on a screen in the theatre at Truro school. There were such interesting people talking and a real variety, from a fascinating free diving champion talking us through an actual free dive (the current record by the way is 11 minutes and 56 seconds, can you imagine holding your breathe for that long?) to another lady asking us the question whether life is harder for short men and overweight women to a lovely French man who had got divorced and had written his daughter a book telling her how much he loved her and explaining that the separation was nothing to do with her. One of the recorded Ted talks played at the conference was by a guy called Tim Urban, a hilarious blogger, whose talk is entitled Behind the Mind of a Master Procastinator. I am sure that we can all relate to the ‘distraction monkey’ that he talks about in his talk, even though we know we have a deadline we are still distracted by ANYTHING but the actual task we should be doing.
Ted talks give a little insight into the lives and experiences of a huge variety of people and I feel it is a privilege for them to share their thoughts and experiences with the rest of us. We continue learning through our whole lives and these talks not only teach us something new but may give us a new perspective on something we didn’t know.
Before we wrote our talks, Mandy gave us a all a ‘How to Write a Ted talk’ book. How hard can it be you may ask to write a talk? When President Nixon was asked how long it takes to write a speech, he said something along the lines of if I can talk for as long as I want then it will take me a day, if I have a time limit then it will take me a week. I can totally relate to this as I have given plenty of speeches over the past three years for the charities, which I support and motivational speeches, but I haven’t had a time limit before. A TED talk has to be 18 minutes maximum and if it goes over then it will be edited down to 18 minutes. I don’t have a problem talking but my problem is not waffling on for too long on one particular point, in my TED talk I was very conscious of covering all the salient points I wanted to make and not miss anything out. For this reason I had to learn the talk pretty much off by heart so as not to forget anything. I soon realized that the problem with learning it off by heart was that it sounded slightly stilted so instead I learnt headlines for each paragraph and then talked about that headline rather than word for word. This for me made the speech more personal and less stilted.
I flew down to Cornwall the day before the talk for the rehearsal at the school. Thank goodness I did as we had to stand on a red carpet circle with the brightest lights shining on us, I felt like I was about to be interrogated by the Gestapo! I couldn’t see anybody in the audience, which I hated as I love to have eye contact with people and feel the audience’s energy. The rehearsal was terrible, really bad, I forgot what I was going to say a couple of times, the mike wasn’t working properly and I didn’t get in all the points I wanted to. I went back to the hotel straight after and practiced and practiced again and again in front of the mirror until I had it word perfect.
Needless to say I didn’t sleep brilliantly, the talk going round and round in my head. I arrived at the school for the morning talks and the atmosphere was amazing. Being in Cornwall all the speakers were local, as were the attendees. After a quick interview with BBC Cornwall I went in to the auditorium. Anyone who has had to wait to do a speech with understand that there is nothing worse than the waiting. I was worried about sitting through 4 other talks before it was my turn but they were so interesting and engaging that the time flew by but I was still incredibly nervous when it came to my turn, sure that I would just stand up there and forget what I was meant to be saying. Watching the talk back, I can tell by my voice how nervous I was but I then seemed to relax into it and find my stride, even remembering the little jokes I liked to throw in to lighten the mood, god knows my story needs a little lightening! It is a such a passion of mine to remind everyone how precious Time is and not to take things for granted in life. We are all so conscious of trying to accumulate more, a better job, bigger house, more things that we forget to stop, look around and appreciate what we have. I feel my role in life now is to remind people how lucky they are right now, not in the future when they have everything they think they ‘need’, but right now as the now is all we have.