Monday, October 15, 2018

The Journey was the Power of my TEDx Talk

As I mentioned in the two earlier posts (here and here) about my TEDx presentation, this was something I wanted to do for years. I had applied to many TEDx programs in cities near and far, and when the opportunity came I was excited. Setting a goal was key, and failures or rejections along the way were by never the end of my journey.

I am a believer in goal setting and working toward achieving that which makes you push yourself. My TEDx experience was a milestone event and involved intensive preparation. It was more than just a speech to me, it was my way to share an important story and key part of my own growth (with the hope it would help others).

But once a long sought target is reached there can be mixed emotions that come along after completion. The TEDx Talk itself was a positive experience, and the waiting six month for the video was frustrating. However, once it was posted and shared with the world I had combined feelings of joy and disappointment.

I had joy because I believe the message was good and people like responded well to the talk (you can go watch it here -  And disappointment because I has spent so much time in pursuit of this goal, that once it was over, there was a question of "what's next?". Few people are invited to deliver multiple TEDx Talks, and I do not have the type of fame that is usually involved in being invited to the main TED stage.  This is my one time at doing a TEDx Talk, and I am proud of it (go watch it and share your impressions with me).

Alas, this is another example of the journey itself being the reward.  While I am thrilled with the end product (well, they messed up the audio a little, but it us okay), there is more to it than what you see on the video. There is what I learned along the way, and also the hope that the message will inspire someone in ways I will never know.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

How to Write and Rehease for a TEDx Talk

Re-Writes and Rehearsing Matters. I received notice that I would be delivering a TEDx Talk five weeks before the event. The topic, "The Art of Giving Small", is not content I present to clients, thus I had to write, rewrite, and rehearse in a short amount of time. While I did not expect my video to "go viral", The honor of being on this stage was something I took seriously. I wanted to do a good job for the audience, the committee that selected me, and the person who referred me to the opportunity. I also believe deeply in the concept of "Compounded Generosity" and hoped to showcase the idea in a good light. Never before have I invested 40+ hours in preparing for a single speech. I realized this was a one=time opportunity, and while my experience of having delivered over 800 professional speeches was important, a shorter TED style talk was unique and was going to require me to push myself. I hired a coach (Hayley Foster - The Short Talk Expert) to help me craft the message. Over and over we re-wrote the words, and she talked me through my core message and coached my on how to highlight the most meaningful parts of my story. Her trained eyes and ears helped me weed out the "fluff" and keep the parts that would paint the picture in the minds of those who would see the talk live or later watch the video. The multiple re-writes and the dozens of times presenting the talk in my living room (and recording it) made all the difference. Had I attempted to do this project without a coach I am not sure the message would have come through as clearly. If I had tried to rely on my skills as a speaker, without the dozens of hours of writing and rehearsing it would not have turned out as well.

I learned through the process that when you are doing something important, you must dedicate the time to craft the final product with all you have. Never leave anything up to chance when you have the choice of being dedicated to the preparation.

Have a Great Day.

thom singer

Saturday, October 06, 2018

How To Be Selected for a TEDx Talk

Several people have asked about the background on how I ended up getting chosen to deliver a TEDx Talk (Link to my TEDx Talk, which released online last week, in the comments below). It was a long journey. When TEDx was created by the TED organization in 2009 it seemed unique and cool. I attended an early local TEDx in Austin, TX in 2010 and watched my friend Steven Tomlinson deliver what I still think of as one of the best TED/TEDx Talks I have ever seen. He was my inspiration. I was hooked. I wanted to speak at one of these events, and I applied to several over the following 8 years (30+ online applications). I was rejected from all of them. A possible reason for rejection, as I was told by several people "in the know" was that I was a professional speaker, and that was not what the local TEDx groups were seeking. That is okay, sometimes things you want are not easy to obtain. And yet several of the people I admire in my profession had done TEDx Talks, so I continued to work to create a more compelling application. I was confident that someday the message of "The Art of Giving Small: Compounded Generosity" would find its way to a TEDx stage.

In my case the trick was to never give up, and to network with other people who had given TEDx Talks. Persistence and accepting that it could take years before the right opportunity arrived was the only reason that I was able to complete this goal. It would have been easy to throw in the towel long ago.

In several cases where I applied I was recommended by former speakers from those events. While I was not chosen, when I had a networking connection to the committee I did have phone calls with people who would make the decisions.

Since TEDx events are independent and local programs, each committee has different ideas of what will make the perfect mix of speakers. Instead of seeing this as negative, I kept a positive attitude that if I was not the right fit, it was not the place for me to speak. I listened to each person who shared advice and kept trying to focus on how to have an idea worth spreading.

The opportunity to speak at TEDx Wyandotte (Kansas City, Kansas) came about via a connection to a friend who had been a speaker at this event the year before. Working with the committee was a good experience, although there was some back and forth on parts of how to present the message. This is a good thing and something to keep in mind if you want to speak at a TEDx event. The organizing committee will want you to show them your body of work and they will want to give advice and council. Some speakers push back on any type of suggestions, but in this case they made me work hard and think about every part of the message I ultimately delivered. In 2018 my goal to present a TEDx Talk was realized, but once I was selected is when the real journey began. I will write more about how to prepare for a TEDx.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer