It’s less than two weeks until my 12-minute TEDxToronto speech. We shared an update on the progress of the speech yesterday and explained that, after 10 weeks, I decided to throw my speech out and start again. I did just that last evening and, in less than 2 hours, the speech seemed to write itself.
Beyond the speech, I’ve had some email asking what the process has been like and thought it might be fun to share the update here.
For those of you who don’t know me, I should add a few pieces of context about myself that may help the rest of this post make sense:
- I’m a confident and competent public speaker. While I fancy myself a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’, public speaking is one of my top skills (but I’m not bragging; as you’ll see below!).
- I’ve been speaking professionally for more than 20 years, though it’s something I do rarely these days (though I still love it).
- Most of the speaking I do is from the top of my head; I love the spontaneity and feed off a crowd.
- I love to scare myself by pushing my own limits. I started public speaking because it intimidated me.
- I’ve spoken for crowds of 800+ before. I generally don’t get nervous though I love it when I do; there’s no better feeling (to me) than overcoming those nerves in a public performance.
- I have a specific speaking style that includes being very active/ mobile.
- I’ve had three friends give speeches at TEDxToronto and knew a little bit of what I was getting into.
When I applied for TEDxToronto, I made a promise to myself: if I got it, I would give in to the entire process. I would take as much coaching as they’d give me, absorb as much feedback as possible and be willing to challenge any of my beliefs about public speaking.
This has been one of the most challenging (and awesome) experiences I’ve ever had.
My speech will include minimal movement, abandon my typical stage voice/ presence (for something different, not something less), will restrict my movement and be very rehearsed and memorized. This isn’t about tweaking my typical approach to public speaking – it’s a back-to-basics re-invention of the process.
I’ve been working with a vocal coach as well as 3 other coaches who give feedback, challenge my process and help keep me on track. Each of them has volunteered their time, dedication and talent and each of them is helping me tremendously. They’ve pushed me well beyond my comfort zone and have challenged a lot of my fundamental beliefs about public speaking.
We attended a Speakers dinner earlier this week. There were almost 100 people there; most of the speakers, lead volunteers (some who spend the entire year working on the event), sponsors, speakers from past years and others. We watched a few videos and heard advice and inspiration from several guests. One of my highlights was having the chance to spend some time with some of the other speakers and share our progress, excitement and fear.
The absolute highlight of the evening was the energy in the room. There were so many people who were just completely excited about this thing that’s bigger than any of us. It seemed as though every one of us just felt lucky to be in the room and dedicated to making something bigger and better than we could collectively imagine.
I am so thankful to all the volunteers and those working to make this day happen and am drinking in every moment of this I can.