When I received the email saying that my application to give a TEDx Talk was accepted, I was giddy with joy. I told everyone with whom I am close and after finding out they all asked me some form of, “Are you nervous?” At the time, I was not at all nervous. In fact, I was bolstered up with the notion that the content of my talk mattered; the information I would be sharing will change someone’s life because I know that bringing open-ended, intentional play back into educational settings for teens helps with skill development. It is what I do for a living, afterall! As time passed, though, I found myself incredibly nervous about having to put together a coherent, timed talk.
Working on my talk has actually turned out to be a blast, thankfully. I, fortunately, have supportive friends and family who have volunteered their time to listen and give feedback. Each time I click the start button on my timer and jump into my talk, I feel a similar rush of joy to the one I received when I got my acceptance email. I grow more confident, falling into a flow that does not feel rehearsed, but instead is fresh and exhilarating.
Crafting the talk has been an important learning experience as it focuses on a topic that not everyone knows about: Dungeons and Dragons. The challenge has been sharing enough information for those who are unfamiliar with the game so that they understand the basics, but not holding the talk back with too much unnecessary game ‘stuff’. The first couple of people on whom I practiced were players of the game and their feedback allowed me to fine tune my bigger message of using play in educational settings as a way of developing leadership skills. The true test came when I shared it with some family who had never played. Their feedback was valuable–they worked with me to shape the message to those who were not familiar with Dungeons & Dragons.
While there is still work to be done on my talk before I feel comfortable saying it is stage ready, I know I am well on my way. Practicing it has not only given me a chance to shape what I say about the work that I do and believe in, but has also provided me with time to bond with my family who are unfamiliar with my Dungeons and Dragons world. They are proud of and excited for me in regards to my TEDx Talk. Sharing my talk with them has brought us closer together. I genuinely cannot wait to take the stage and talk with you all about play for leadership!