What I Learned About My Marriage and Myself from Giving a TED Talk
For the last 9 years, my strategic plan has included the same BHAG (Big Hair Audacious Goal), give a TED talk. It has always felt like just that – big and hairy – a dream that probably wouldn’t come true. It is still surreal, days later, that it actually did come true.
I anticipated the nerves, the ups and downs in preparing, the emotion on stage. I didn’t expect, however, the support, the fun, the ease of being in the moment on the Red Dot…and the care we were given the minute we entered the auditorium. As my husband reminded me that morning, you are part of a tiny percentage of people in the world who have stood on the Red Dot. Deep breaths.
Speaking of my husband…I knew from the minute I got the email inviting me to speak, he would be my number one supporter, along with my mother. I didn’t realize that practicing in front of him would be what it was.
The morning before speaking at TEDxCherryCreekWomen, I asked if I could practice in front of him, a friendly face. As soon as I started, I realized it would be the hardest audience I would ever speak to. My husband Shane is an internal processor. He processes his thoughts and feelings inside his head and body. I do not. I process everything outside. I do not have a good poker face. We are complete opposites.
For the full 11 minutes and 15 seconds, Shane stared at me without expression. No smile, no laughing, no nodding of his head. A mere subtle frown appeared about half way through. After my final ‘Thank you,’ he said, even toned, calmly, and emotionless, ‘That was amazing. You are so good at this. I’m impressed. You’re going to be great tomorrow.’
A silent, expressionless face does not necessarily mean dislike, disinterest, discontent, disapproval. What I learned from that Friday morning practice with Shane, is that silence or lack of nodding faces meant that I was rocking my talk. An expressionless audience can mean an audience who is impressed and entertained. I will remember this the next time I am met with an expressionless face. This practice aligned accurately with speaking to a COVID-induced audience of three.
What I will forever remember:
- Feedback doesn’t always feel good. When it doesn’t feel good take a minute to digest it. Is it the delivery of the feedback? Is it the source? What is the golden nugget from that feedback? If you’re being honest with yourself, and it still doesn’t feel good, put it aside. (Thank you Dafna and Christy)
- Imposter Syndrome is real. And it will keep appearing, even after I’ve given my TED talk. (Thank you Michael)
- Smiling and humor make me relax. That’s all I needed in those few minutes before stepping on stage, and in the instant I was left alone on the Red Dot. (Thank you Becky and Candice)
- I know what I’m talking about. After numerous hours of preparing and practicing, my talk was in me. I wish I had believed that right from the start and throughout the process.
- I GET to do this. My new motto is now solidified within me.
I shared the message of using powerful language to change the way women, and many men, communicate. When using strong leadership language, listeners will now communicate with influence and authority.
What I didn’t realize, was the impact this idea would have on the next generation. My niece is sharing my talk with her 4th grade class. My son told his high school friends, girls and boys, and they contacted me on their own to thank me. That’s why I stood on that Red Dot.