WOW, what a ride! Preparing for a TEDx talk was much more intense than I imagined. I am a professor and frequent speaker for plant enthusiast groups. So, I am used to getting up and speaking – a lot. I often pull together slide shows and practice once, if I have time. I even prerecord lectures for my 100% online teaching appointment. So I am used to the pressure of being recorded. But none of this prepared me for the intensity and planning required for a TEDx talk.
When I speak elsewhere, I can answer questions or take a verbal side journey into areas that the crowd wants to hear about. For a TEDx talk, that choice isn’t there. If you want to be effective for TEDx, you better make it a self-contained talk.
When I applied to be a TEDx speaker, I did not realize how many times I was going to have to practice. I think it ended up in the neighborhood of 60 times! And this journey was much more colorful than I expected. For example, the first time I gave my talk to a group of people, they had WAY too many questions – I clearly did not give adequate background up front! So, I had to step back and start over on the essence of the talk. That means I wove in more background information.
Just as I was getting settled in to that new version of the talk, feedback from my viewers demonstrated to me that I was getting into the details too much and not entertaining enough. Alas, I had to refine my talk even more. I decided that I had better tell a story and give some examples too.
I ended up giving this practice talk to at least 12 groups of reviewers and my HORT 511 Green Roof Culture class! The feedback varied wildly but each comment ended up flavoring my talk. Upon reflection, I am thrilled at how this process helped me distill my thoughts into an intriguing and engaging final product. I will use this tactic again. Thank you TEDx Cherry Creek! It was a pleasure.