What’s it like doing a TED Talk?

It’s like competing in The X-Games
It’s like completing a Master’s Thesis
It’s like a Humanitarian Aid Project
It’s more fulfilling than you can ever imagine.



It’s like the X-Games…

One thing I’ve noticed over the last few years I’ve had public speaking is that speaking is a lot like competitive freestyle skiing.

In both situations you’re faced with: intense nervous energy—“the butterflies,” internal and external pressure to perform, the audience is the judging panel, the applause is your score, your performance falls back on preparation, you feel elated or defeated, and the adrenaline rush feels the same.

Doing a TED talk at TEDx Stanley Park felt like I imagine doing a run in X-Games finals would feel like. Once you ‘drop in’ and walk on stage, there’s no turning back. You need to get past your ‘first trick’—getting your first laugh, that’s when you get into the zone. You almost blackout while speaking—it’s hard to remember what you said or how you said it—your performance really does fall back on your preparation. There’s one last trick, the close, you NEED to ‘stick this landing.’ Before you know it, you’ve crossed the finish line, and then there’s the applause (hopefully you get the applause!). If a standing ovation were a score, your score would be in the 90’s!

The Queen Elizabeth Theatre is the most prominent stage I’ve ever stepped foot on. The pressure to perform gave me intense nervous energy, my chest felt heavy—it feels like someone’s parked their car on your chest! But once it’s all said and done, that final moment before you walk off the stage, you feel the reward, one of the biggest adrenaline rushes you’ve ever had.

It’s like a Master’s thesis project…

Working for the better part of a year to create a 15-minute talk takes more work than you’ve put into almost anything—aside from skiing or maybe my recovery from Spinal Cord Injury for me!

The creative journey, the interviews, the research, the script-writing, the rehearsals, the practice-practice-practice, the revision after revision, the video review, the coaching sessions, the staging… the list goes on. This process culminates to almost a year of work, hundreds and hundreds of hours, and countless late nights. All this effort, just to produce one 15-minute TED talk!

It’s like a Master’s Thesis—all of the revisions to perfect the final product. The only difference, you’re not submitting a paper or writing a final exam, you have to perform your thesis! Talk about pressure. You only have one shot at it, so you better get an A++.

It’s like a humanitarian aid project…

TEDx Stanley Park’s mandate is to Inspire Brave Actions… How do you get people to ACT!? You MUST inspire them. But speaking to inspire is much more challenging than speaking to inform.

For me, it became apparent in the early days working with the TEDxSP production team that these talks needed to be more than your “standard” presentation. To “push the needle towards a better world,” your talk needs to make people not just want to act, but feel that there is no other option but to TAKE ACTION!

My motivation was the thought that my idea could potentially help thousands of people, if not millions—depending on how much people feel like sharing it! Realizing that I could potentially help humanity with my ideas gave me a profound sense of purpose. It’ll do the same for you.

It’s more fulfilling than you can ever imagine…

I know I’ve been fortunate in my recovery from spinal cord injury (SCI). For that, I am forever grateful.

When conceptualizing and writing my talk, I spent hours reflecting on my journey. I’ve been very fortunate since my accident for so many reasons. It’s a tough reality, but many people don’t recover physically from SCI, so I am grateful every day for how much I’ve regained. I’m arguably one of the luckiest of the ‘unlucky.’ The losses I’ve experienced weigh on me every day. BUT I have so much to be thankful for. The support I’ve had over the years, my family and friends, my new purpose and passions, they all come together to give me an attitude of gratitude, which has ultimately helped me heal from my trauma.

I was lucky, but I had to work at my mindset. I had to practice gratitude. In my TED talk, I tried to reflect on what worked for me and convey that ‘practice’ in a way that others could put to use—taking action. If one of my ideas helps ANYONE suffering in grief or facing tough times, I will be forever fulfilled and forever grateful.

What’s YOUR idea worth spreading?

THANK YOU for reading and for your support!

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