As some of you know, I gave my first TED talk a couple weeks ago. (I wrote it that way on purpose because it implies I’ll do another one someday.) It was a pretty cool experience, primarily because I was surprised by the entire process. After almost a decade of speaking for a living, I had apparently begun to believe that I’d experienced just about everything a person can experience while talking in front of a group of people. I never said I was the brightest person ever, but thankfully the TED experience has disabused me of (some of) my stupidity. But in case you’re a TED fan and are curious about how the whole thing works, here are 5 things I learned from the experience.
Filming a TED Event Is Ridiculously Challenging
The A/V company told me that they were given 25 pages of requirements in order for our videos to achieve TED-approved status. I can only begin to guess all the things on that list, but I’m assuming it included things like ‘when to breathe’ and ‘acceptable shades of yellow’. Anyway, I’m guessing it took them a while to Photoshop a marmot into everyone’s talks, but the videos were recently finished and available below! (Author’s note: I don’t think ‘show us the marmot’ is a TED requirement, but I think it should be.)
Everyone Has Their Own Pre-Game Ritual
Some of the speakers meditated before their talk. Most chatted nervously or paced. I do what I always do – bounce up and down and act like I’m going into a boxing ring. Since almost all of the talks were fantastic, there seems to be no wrong way to prepare yourself. So if you like doing cartwheels before you speak to a group, knock yourself out. Whatever works for you.
People Really Want To Learn
There were three sessions of speakers – 17 total – and the day lasted for six hours. And a couple dozen audience members stayed to listen to every single person. That amazed me, and still does. In case you’ve ever despaired at getting anyone to care about whatever it is you care about, take heart. Plenty of people are interested, and they’re waiting for you to find them.
Everyone Is Impressed By What Everyone Else Is Doing
It would have been easy to think that my talk on leadership wasn’t all that interesting compared to what everyone else was talking about (I met a corporate turnaround specialist, multiple professors, some amazing artists, a woman who was invited to the White House before she was 30, and the guy who invented Baked Lays.) But all the other speakers were just as interested in what I’ve done with my life as I was with what they’ve done with theirs. That’s a good lesson, I think. It’s easy for us to think that everyone else is more interesting than we are ourselves, but it turns out that plenty of other people think we’re pretty amazing too.
I Can Still Get Ridiculously Nervous On Stage
People often ask me if I get nervous in front of audiences, and I usually say no. I’ve done this for years, and I’ve given thousands of presentations at this point. But apparently I’ve been lying to myself, because I was so nervous I almost forgot what I was supposed to say. I think that’s a good thing, since nerves usually keep you from getting too complacent. But I can only say that now that I’m not currently nervous. In the moment, I don’t think I was quite as sanguine about it. So if you get butterflies before you go up in front of people, don’t worry about it. So do I.
In case you haven’t seen the video yet, you can view it here. Be on the lookout for the mystery marmot!