Attending TEDx Beacon Street was a highlight of this career project for me. Public speaking has always been something I’ve wanted to try, but haven’t had much of an opportunity to do. Meeting so many great speakers in one place was an incredible experience. For those of you who are unfamiliar with TED Talks, TED is a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing great ideas, or as they say “Ideas Worth Spreading”. They create a platform that gives inspiring speakers 18 minutes to deliver their big idea and then they publish those talks on their website. There are more than 2,000 talks on TED.com that have been viewed by millions of people around the globe. Independent TEDx events are currently organized and held in more than 150 countries. One of those events was held in Boston in November, which I was able to attend.
The venue was intimate – a school auditorium with seating for only about 300 people. With over 2500 people in attendance to see more than 75 talks over the course of two days, the lines to get in to see the speakers were long. Many people had to watch from one of the viewing rooms via live-streaming throughout the school. It was also broadcast live on the web – this little auditorium in this small school in Boston was reaching a worldwide audience.
The subjects were as varied as the speakers. From stone carving to cancer immunology, there were musicians, authors, educators, doctors and physicists. There was Juan Enriquez and Kandice Sumner, Nicolas Benoon, Linda Sue Park and Cornelia Trimble. All of them were great speakers that gave me an interesting perspective on their topics, but the main reason I went to Boston was to see Rebecca Ryan speak at this event.
Rebecca is a futurist, an economist and a thought leader that helps communities and companies think bigger, reach higher and build better. I am following Rebecca’s career as a futurist, which will be part of another blog post coming soon, but a TED Talk is a milestone to reach in any public speaker’s career. For some, it’s THE milestone. This was a high point for Rebecca and I wanted to see her speech in person. There’s something about seeing it live that resonates differently than viewing it online, and she rocked it!
Rebecca’s talk, titled “Spring is Coming” was about how our country is currently in a winter season. We’ve had other winters in our history which have always led to spring and then summer, followed by fall and another winter. During a winter season we need to reflect on what we have learned from the past and what we are going to reframe in the future. What are we going to do for the generation that will inherit the next spring in 2020? What can we do to improve the world we live in? Her talk was moving and thought provoking. You can watch it at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxvcdQ4ogr8
So the big question – Is public speaking for me? Maybe! While I didn’t give a TED Talk, last week I had to give my own speech to a group of business owners that needed some inspiration for the future. I would love to say that it was easy, but that was far from the case. It was much harder than I ever imagined. I prepared for weeks and I practiced for hours – in front of anyone that would listen to it. My poor family probably heard it about 15 times! I constantly reworked the timing, the message, the slides – everything. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make it perfect, and attending TEDx gave me the inspiration and pointers on how to achieve that.
My speech lasted 24 minutes and it was probably the single most difficult thing that I’ve done this year. As someone who gets nervous to be put on the spot when asked to talk in a large group, being well prepared made a huge difference. While I was still incredibly nervous and anxious leading up to it, in that moment I was so practiced, it simply flowed. I felt the audience respond and it went incredibly well! I can only imagine how it must have been for those presenting at TEDx in Boston. If my own experience was anything like that, this is definitely something I would like to try again!
If you would like to watch all of the speakers from TEDx Beacon Street in Boston, you can view them here: http://www.tedxbeaconstreet.com/