Speaking at TEDx

Earlier this year I was honored to be selected to speak at a TEDx event.  This particular event was organized by Sno-Isle Libraries and located at the Edmonds Center for the Performing Arts.  This was not my first rodeo for public speaking, but it was my first TED talk.  Something you are likely to hear from any TED speaker is that there’s about one hour of prep for every minute you’re up on stage.  You do not just submit an outline and then wing it out on stage.  I had 4 meetings with Sno-Isle organizers to help me further refine and practice my talk.  The organizers were invaluable in helping me not only improve the flow and content of the talk, but also thinking what would work best in the TED format.  It was also a very comfortable environment where different props and emphases could be tried out to gauge reaction and timing.  By the third meeting I was feeling pretty good about the wording and delivery.

Matt Cail

That sure is a big “X”

Outside of rehearsals I also practiced with others.  Family members helped out (my kids were some of my harshest critics).  A few colleagues also offered feedback.  The day of the talk was fast approaching and I was excited.  Was I nervous?  A bit before the final rehearsal at the Edmonds Center for the Performing Arts.  The lights were set up, the stage prepared, and the speakers were stopping by in shifts to get a feel for the venue.   The host practiced my introduction and then I walked out.  The seats were empty, but everything else looked as it would the following day.  I went through most of my talk and it felt good.  It just flowed.  There was something about walking out on stage as it would actually happen and running through the talk that put me at ease.  Those jitters?  Gone.  I was ready and wanted to give the talk.

Sno-Isle organized a lovely reception for speakers and organizers and supporters at the Future of Flight Museum.  It was fun meeting many of the other speakers and hearing about their preparation and what topics they would be speaking about.

The next day started with me working (not an unusual thing).  I caught the first few talks streaming online (as did 200-300 other people that day).  By mid-morning I had knocked out my daily list and left for the Center.  I had not run through my talk since the day before.  I rehearsed it one last time in my car.  Red lights were exceptionally bad and I had plenty of time to get all of the way through it before parking.  There was an entrance for the speakers on the side of the building with name tags to pick up.  There was also a room set up as a speaker’s lounge.  There was some food and drink, as well as  a television showing the latest talk.  This way the speakers could work on preparing or just hanging out, while catching all of the talks.

Some of the speakers had already finished their talks and had a tranquil air about them.  The time went by fast and soon the organizers were prepping the speaker ahead of me.  As she gave her talk I was back stage, getting miced up and speaking with one of the organizers.  All too soon the other speaker was done and I was about to go on.  I had a small blue bin in my left arm, which held the props I would use.  The host was introducing me.  Then I was walking out on the stage and I was ready to give my talk.  The rest is history…

Setting technology limits | Matt Cail | TEDxSnoIsleLibraries


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