Preparing for a TEDx talk

Exhilaration! When I found I got selected for a TEDx talk, my joy knew no bounds. Along with it came an immediate apprehension as there was not a lot of time.

I was asked to deliver a speech about my idea.

I had so many ways to convey my idea, so many stories to share! I was not sure what to share and what not to.

It took me a while to hone in on a specific idea with my background story, thanks to my coach Frank King.

Once we decided on the core idea that was worth sharing and one that would tie with my story, I was able to get my speech going. Here are some tips from my learnings

Identify the central idea or message you want to convey in your talk.

What is the key takeaway you want your audience to remember? Make sure your talk revolves around this core message. Just jot down your thoughts and stories pertaining to your idea. I had six weeks to prepare and fine tune my idea by then.

I knew I was going to talk about my life story, use certain incidents as examples, to convey my core message of self-advocacy in healthcare. How being one’s own advocate is very important, especially when it comes to health. My message – Importance of Self-advocacy in healthcare

Understand the TED/TEDx Format

Craft your message around your topic. Familiarize yourself with the TED/TEDx talk format, which usually allows speakers around 18 minutes or less to present their ideas. This time constraint encourages speakers to be concise and impactful.

For TEDx Taft Avenue, we were given only 10 minutes to present our ideas.

To share my life story in 10 minutes was a tough call. I took maximum time to figure out what to cut, how to keep it concise, yet give enough examples to convey my idea clearly.

To deliver the message of self-advocacy. I was snipping portions till the day before my talk.

Create a Well-Structured Talk

Organize your content in a clear and logical manner. Divide your talk into sections with a natural flow that supports your core message.

Consider using the classic storytelling structure (beginning, middle, end) or the problem-solution format.

Being a Toastmaster, I always think of any speech/talk as stories with a beginning, middle and end , finally tying it all together. I created my talk with the same structure. I decided to start the talk with the announcement of my cancers and kidney failure.

An opening should always be one that grabs attention. I hope mine did and the video does it too, once it comes out. Your closing is as important as the opening.

End with a powerful and memorable conclusion that reinforces your core message and leaves a lasting impression on the audience. I tried Let’s see how it comes out.

Tailor your visual aids

I personally did not have visual aids, but for those who had a brand or a topic requiring visual aids, a slideshow presentation helped. I was told to keep the slides simple enough where they can complement the talk, not distract.

Avoid images/gifs that could distract from your talk. If you think you might lose the audience at a certain point, having a visual enhancement would help.

Practice, Practice, Practice and seek Feedback:

Time yourself. Rehearse your talk multiple times, ideally in front of friends, family, or colleagues to receive feedback. Practice will help you refine your delivery, work on your timing, and build confidence.

Thanks to our diligent organizer and my coach, I was able to practice my talk few times and get some wonderful feedback. I practiced in our Toastmasters club as well, where all the club members had some very valid feedback to offer.

Actually, I think my speech took a very nice turn where I was able to tie in my story with the idea better ,after I implemented some of the suggestions offered by the club.

On the Stage:

Be Authentic: Be yourself during the talk. Let your personality shine through and share your passion genuinely. Authenticity helps create a deeper connection with the audience. Since my talk was my story, I was able to be myself.

Be amplified: Show confidence, authority. Slow down and enunciate, so everyone can understand you. As a toastmaster, I know that pauses and silence speak a lot and can be emphatic. I tried it using it at one point in my speech. Yet to see how it got conveyed.

Now, another key component for a TEDx stage, is the dress you want to wear. That deserves a blog of its own. Following in a few days………

Preparing for a TEDx talk

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