Writing a TEDx Talk

by Sarah Brown

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 7.44.38 PMRecently, I had an opportunity to deliver a TEDx Talk at Wilmington, DE’s TEDxevent.  I was thrilled with the opportunity to talk about how everyone can be happy, successful, and understood in their key pursuits and how each major decision is an opportunity to increase happiness.

Then reality set in.  I had never done a talk like this before.  The format was all different.  How was I going to get these ideas across in 15 minutes?

And then there was the little problem of the cameras.  All TEDx Talks are recorded.  That scared me.

What to do:  I had to eat my own dog food so to speak.  What in this pursuit would make me happy, successful and understood in the process? So here is what I did:

  1. What would make me happy?  Having sufficient time to think this through thoroughly and to do adequate research.  This plays to a real interest of mine—research.  So I allocated 1 hour a day to think about the topic and to do research.  I did this in a 21-day period of time, so that it could become like a habit. So, yes, my preparation was about 21 hours, almost 1.5 hours per minute of talking, and after 21 days, it had become a habit.
  2. What strengths did I bring to the table?  First I prefer to be structured and the talk format played to this. I could and did use my natural tendency to approach things in a logical structural way to organize my talk.
  3. What did I need?  I needed direct feedback from others.  So I chose coaches who would be blunt with me.

And then I followed my own process over this 21-day period of time:

  • KNOW.  I generated a lot of knowledge, reduced it down to something I thought would work.  And I did it on paper.  I wrote a lot of scripts.
  • TEST.  I then sent it to no less than 5 others to review it and provide feedback.  And then I rehearsed the actual delivery with 5 individuals.
  • GO.  After each test phase I wrote down what I needed to change, changed it, and then rehearsed it again so that I was sure I got it.

I had butterflies for 3 days before the TEDx Talk and for the first 15 seconds on stage. And then I was fine—confident in my message and my preparation.  It was then just like any other workshop.

So, now I am getting feedback from others.  Among other things, I need to smile more.  That will be the topic of my next 21-day process.  I am sure there are other opportunities for me to refine the message and its delivery, and I am counting as a blessing everyone’s contributions to that.  Send me your thoughts at [email protected]. Please visit the Know Thyself Guides website to learn how you can become successful, happy and understood in your career and your own life.



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