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Navigating Uncertainty: My TEDx Journey

Uncertainty can disrupt even the best-laid plans, something I experienced firsthand while preparing for my TEDx talk (on uncertainty, ironically). 

As I took on this journey, I envisioned an organized, step-by-step approach to refining my speech, writing this blog, and conducting a flawless video run-through. Instead, life intervened, revealing a deeper lesson about adaptability and the unpredictability of the creative process.

My phone rang multiple times, and I was drawn back home to assist my parents in arranging hospice care for my 97-year-old grandmother. I also faced challenges in my book production, throwing my initial plans out the window. You might say some fog rolled in.

Despite these challenges, I stayed focused on refining my talk content, which needed significant shortening. I envisioned myself as a sculptor, chiseling away at excess clay to reveal a masterpiece. I practiced sections before a live audience, observing what resonated and what didn't. With each recording, I identified parts that didn't feel natural or where I stumbled. After several rounds of adjustments, the talk began to take shape as I strived to bring it under the 8-minute mark.

Attending the Pennsylvania Women’s Conference in Philadelphia provided additional insights. Listening to Brené Brown, Michelle Obama, Shawn Achor, and Shonda Rhimes inspired me to reflect on my speaking style. Brené's authenticity resonated deeply, Michelle’s credibility made her relatable like a close friend, Shawn’s humor effortlessly uplifted his speech, and Shonda's elegance left a memorable impression. I returned home both humbled and inspired.

Ready for practice, I divided my speech into segments, enlarged the font size on my Word document, and printed each section. I taped them to the wall to create a visual roadmap, particularly valuable as I wasn't using PowerPoint slides to guide me. Dragging a round brown carpet into my living room, I began recording my rehearsal, knowing that in less than a month, that carpet would turn red.

Educational Insights on Preparing a TEDx Talk

  1. Preparation and Adaptability: Despite meticulous planning, expect unexpected challenges. Flexibility is key when circumstances change.

  2. Content Refinement: Think of yourself as a sculptor removing unnecessary elements to reveal the essential message. Record rehearsals and seek feedback to identify areas for improvement.

  3. Analyze Influential Speakers: Study other speakers for techniques that resonate with their audiences. Consider tone, relatability, humor, and authenticity.

  4. Visual Cues: If not using presentation slides, create visual cues like segmenting speeches and printing them out to enhance memory retention.

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