To use an athletic analogy, a normal speech and a TED Talk are totally different events (like a sprint vs the decathlon). It takes a surprisingly different set of skills and type of preparation to perform well.
I've given hundreds of presentations, and don't normally stress about them. I did for this one.
In most of my talks, there is very little "set in stone" to memorize. I tend to have a main topic (or theme), and each slide serves like a module ... and I think, talk, interact, and improvise throughout the framework.
This works well for me because I tend to think in anecdotes that branch out from the main theme. That may be a great skill to have, but it's not one that helps you write a good TED Talk.
Why? Because, in contrast, a TED Talk is really about "one idea worth sharing".
In many respects, it's much harder to write and deliver a good 10 minutes about one idea, than it is to prepare to talk about a much broader topic for one hour.
My wife, son, and me at the TEDx Plano event
The TEDx committee created a sense of formality with stringent standards and deadlines. My guess is that, during the planning and rehearsal process, they wanted uncomfortable speakers to provoke better speeches.
As a result, I prepared (and threw away) four separate talks before coming up with something that felt right and flowed properly.
Here are some bullet points that highlight lessons learned.
One of my early listeners coached me that the trick to a good TED Talk is that it is not about what you say, but rather about what they feel. In other words, for a TED Talk, evaluate the story and the particular wording choices based on the emotions they elicit in listeners.
One of the best ways to get a point across emotionally is to tell a story. And, if I couldn't remember it easily, it probably wasn't a story.
The speech committee and several early listeners strongly encouraged me to go with as few slides as possible. I started with 15 ... I got it down to six ... and I ended up with two (relying, instead, on the performance and connection rather than images and words).
They encouraged me to take almost everything about business (in general) or my business (specifically) out of the talk.
In fact, they kept encouraging me to make it simpler and more basic on almost every level. "Why did you say that?" I would answer; and they would say "Then say that."
I didn't realize how hard it was to make something simple.
TED Talks are pretty well-know for their quality. So, I was understandably excited (nervous, even) about presenting at the TEDx Plano Conference this past weekend.
It was fun (in the way that preparing for a marathon is "fun").
For example, in the days leading up to the event, I would give it to the unsuspecting people who chose to use the StairMaster next to me. It seemed like a good way to practice with my heart rate up.
I also gave it one-on-one to employees. Why? Because it gave me extra practice runs, and I got to experiment with different variations to gauge responses.
How did it go? The speech, itself, went pretty well ... Though it is hard to believe how much work goes into something so fleeting. I guess that is why they have video.
They filmed it with a professional multi-camera crew. At this point, I still have no idea how long it takes for them to edit it and then put it online. I will let you know when I get the link.
By the way, my topic was "The Time Value of a Life Worth Living -- An entrepreneur's reflections on not letting life get in the way." It is about a year that brought my Dad's death, the forced sale of my company by venture capitalists, and a divorce (in that order). Sometimes, life's darkest days bring the greatest gifts ... if you are willing to look for them.
Next week, I'll write about what it is like to prepare for a TED Talk, and what I believe are some of the key differences from traditional presentations.
Inspiring and Fun! Seems appropriate for the start of the Holiday Season.
Beware, these three short videos may encourage you to travel, learn something new, move your body, or create something.
3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage… all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and food.
The movie was great. But what left me in wonder was thinking about how it came to be. The scope and scale of the series is literally amazing.
Even just for this movie, the number of people listed on the credits was astounding.
Yet, think about how many people were involved in producing the movies, books, and merchandising. And that's not including the theme parks, promotion, and the eco-system that forms to support a project of this magnitude.
When did it become real ?
Was it when the first book came out?
Perhaps it was when J.K. Rowling got a contract to have the book published?
Even earlier ... how about when she finished writing the book ... or
It is arguable that it became real when she started thinking about it.
On some level, Rowling probably agrees. Here is a quote she wrote from Dumbledore, in response to Harry asking whether something was real or happening in his head.
"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry; but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"
The real magic of creation happens in the mind.
In a very real sense, there is "infinite possibility" ... because in every moment there are an infinite number of possibilities. To a great extent, though, our automatic habits preclude seeing them. This may seem to make it is easier to focus on the path taken; but it unconsciously limits the future.
What would have happened if, back in the early 1990s, J.K. Rowling had the idea for Harry Potter ... but thought she couldn't write a book (or even if she did, who would read it?). Her "new world" didn't exist yet, while her "old world" didn't have a path from there-to-here.
Einstein spoke to this. He said:
“You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”
There's magic in choosing a path that energizes you. Reality is what you bring to it, and what you hold in awareness.