Meet the Speakers: Cheryl Rice for TEDxWilmingtonWomen
Imagine being asked to the senior prom by the guy you’ve been crushing on since freshman year and turning him down because you had to study for the SATs. You’d have to be nuts, right?
Well that’s what I almost did when I received the invitation to speak at the 3rd annual TEDxWilmingtonWomen.
Not because I wasn’t dying to participate – doing a TEDx talk has been a dream of mine for years – but because October and November are the busiest months of the year for me. It’s during that time that I prepare for the main event of a non-profit I lead while still maintaining my coaching practice.
I was aware of the dozens of hours it takes to prepare a TEDx talk and was terrified I couldn’t put that time in and still honor my other commitments. So I actually drafted a no-thank-you email to the TEDxWilmington organizer.
Fortunately, before pushing “send” I talked with my husband and a few trusted friends.
Each of them looked at me like I had three heads and in no uncertain terms threatened bodily harm if I did anything other than immediately reply, “YES – I’d be honored to speak!”
Each also said they would do whatever it took to help me through these busy months. My husband, Alan, even agreed to eating prepared meals and walking our dog to give me time to practice. How lucky am I?
As I reflected on my knee-jerk reaction, I realized that while my concern about managing multiple priorities was true, what was also true is that when I received the invitation, a wave of terror washed through me. It was easier to say “I’m too busy” than “I’m too scared.” But I was. And I am.
And I’m moving forward anyway. Thanks to a terrific team of supporters, and the firm belief that what I have to share is meaningful and important. I can’t wait for the prom.
the TEDx process: Cheryl Rice for TEDxWilmingtonWomen
Boy, has my empathy for actors skyrocketed since I began trying to memorize my TEDx talk!
While I’ve been a professional facilitator and speaker for years, I can’t recall a time when I needed to commit 10 minutes of content to memory. Almost always I’ve been able to rely on at least a few handwritten notes or bullets on a PowerPoint slide to keep me on point. Can the same middle-aged brain that struggles to remember where she put her car keys, actually remember the correct order of 1250 individual words?
Fortunately, the answer so far is yes.
I’ve drawn on some of my “oldies but goodies” strategies to help.
The first comes from Bird by Bird, the classic book on writing by Anne Lamott. In it she tells the story of complaining to her father about being overwhelmed by a school paper on ornithology and asking him how she could get through it. Her father replied, “bird by bird.” For the purpose of preparing my TEDx talk, the mantra I’m using is “word by word.”
The second strategy that’s helping is using index cards. I relied on the 4” x 6” cards as I wrote my talk. Putting ideas, words, and stories on individual index cards in no particular order allowed me to get the content down. Now that my talk is written, I’ve put one part of it on each card and put the cards in order. I focus on memorizing just one or two cards at a time – word by word.
The third and most obvious strategy I’m using is practicing…a lot. Since the cards are portable I keep them in my purse and take them with me everywhere I go. And instead of scrolling my phone for news headlines while I’m waiting in lines, I scroll through my packet of index cards instead.
Each of these strategies, as well as support from my coach, husband and friends, is not only helping my middle-aged brain take hold of my 1250 words, it’s also getting me more and more excited to share them.
Reflecting: Cheryl Rice for TEDxWilmingtonWomen
Breathe in… and picture smiling audience members
Breathe out…fear that I’ll trip as I walk on stage
Breathe in…well wishes of family and friends
Breathe out…fear I’ll forget my next line
Breathe in…my passion for sharing my message, “You Matter!”
Breathe out…Oh my goodness what was I thinking when I applied to do this!?
Breathe in…well no matter what, Gracie (my dog) will still love me.
Repeat 822 times and you’ll have a sense of what the actual day of TEDxWilmingtonWomen was like for me!
I was the last of 27 speakers of the day. And while I was assured this was an honorary spot in the program, it didn’t stop my resilience from being tested as I watched one wonderful speaker after another take the stage.
Fortunately, my husband and numerous dear friends were in attendance and took turns reminding me of my preparation and my passion. In addition to the rehearsal the day before, I had conducted 3 dress rehearsals with friends in the preceding weeks, even subjecting my Thanksgiving guests to a performance before our meal.
Minutes before it was my turn to go on stage I put my hand on my heart and reminded myself of how grateful I was for this opportunity, and to all the people who made it possible. I decided to bet on my best and trust that the words would flow.
And they did. And the audience did indeed smile, and cry, and even rose to their feet when I was done.
Watch Cheryl Rice’s TEDx talk HERE.
3rd Annual TEDxWilmingtonWomen: Showing Up // 30 November 2018