TEDx and Me

Being invited to speak at TEDxDorking was a dream come true.  A chance to share my insights and ideas on a well-respected global platform.  Amazing.

Then the doubt set in!!

It wasn’t the speaking that had got me in a spin.  It was the content.  Firstly, I convinced myself I didn’t really have anything to share.  Then, after a long walk and a bit of a rant to myself, the truth dawned –  I actually had lots to share and didn’t really know where to start.

The time had come to follow my trusted recipe…

  • select a book(s) to help me sort my ideas
  • find a coffee shop
  • get out plenty of plain paper and loads of coloured pens

My Three T’s

Unsurprisingly, the book of choice was TED Talks by Chris Anderson, Head of TED.

Of all the great advice and insights shared in the book, it was the power of the throughline that gave me the spark and kick I needed.  Come on, Elaine, what the heck is your point?!

“throughline – the connecting theme that ties together each narrative element”

My doodles and mind maps began to multiply.  ‘So what?’ and ‘your point is?’ became my new mantras. After much deliberation I had decided on 2 of my 3 T’s.

The Throughline:  helping our STEM* talent develop holistically and beyond technical boundaries equals global prosperity

[  * STEM = Science | Technology | Engineering | Maths  ]

The Title:  Nurturing Our Knowledge Engine

Now it was time to turn my attention to the talk itself.

The Talk:  They are clever those TED folk.  The 18-minute rule adds a level of discipline most people don’t experience in their day-to-day presenting adventures.  Less time can encourage substance-less soundbites.  More time can affect audience engagement.  18 minutes finds a sweet spot between the two.

Put aside the fear of key points ending up on the editing room floor, TEDxDorking was going to be live-streamed too, I needed to make my minutes count.  Again ‘so what?’ became my mantra.  I had to be brutal and honest; if it wasn’t adding value, if it wasn’t working with the throughline, if it wasn’t creating a coherent story it had to go.  My flabby first attempts gradually evolved; becoming leaner and less laboured.  Then it was time to practice.

Taking To the Stage? My Top 5 Preparation Tips

It is true that not everyone will present on a TEDx stage.  However, presenting is an important skill.  And it’s not only about our delivery and speaking style.  Yes, of course this matters; monotone, mumblings are not inspiring.  To make sure we have impact, encourage engagement and foster learning, the preparation matters too. Here are 5 top tips to help you with yours:

  1. Allow plenty of time to prepare…then double it – this is especially true for shorter talks
  2. Start with your throughline – what is your point? what is your purpose?
  3. Think of your audience – making it accessible needs you to see the world through their eyes
  4. Ask ‘so what?’ about your subject matter – you may know your subject like the back of your hand; you may love it with all your heart but why should anyone else care?
  5. Be ruthless with your content – what is really adding value?  what is not?

From preparation to presentation, the TEDx experience had a profound impact on me.  For which I will be eternally grateful.  The lessons I learnt were many and far-reaching.  Probably the subject of another blog post someday 🙂

And finally, as it would seem strange not to include it, here I am in action at TEDxDorking…


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