Meet the Speakers: Dr. Patrick Wright for TEDxWilmingtonWomen
It’s been a busy few weeks of preparation for my talk. I’m reminded of my time in journalism with deadlines to meet and content to prepare. But it has been a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to my talk.
The reason has everything to do with the content. For years, I’ve sought to understand the motivations for my own and other humans’ behavior. Specifically, I’ve always wanted to know why perfectly capable, smart and reasonable people seem to make choice after choice that run counter to their best interests. Luckily, life presented me information that allowed me to connect various dots to find one very plausible, very likely and I’m sure very controversial answer.
It is based in biology and psychology. It is a combination of the way our primate-based brains are wired and the incredibly strong influence of early childhood experiences. People don’t realize they are both the creators of their reality and the victim of it. I’ve spent my life trying to figure this out. Now, I get to present my answer to the world.
The best part of my talk is that I’m not telling people what to do. I think there are a great many people looking for answers and too many people willing to give them bad ones. I prefer to give information and perspective. I prefer to educate instead of dictate. When I was a college professor, I knew I had two jobs above all others: give students a reason to come to class and give them something to ponder when they left. My talk comes from the same philosophy. So please join me and I’ll help illuminate how you became the person you think you are and why you’ve made many of the choices you’ve made to date.
the TEDx process: Dr. Patrick Wright for TEDxWilmingtonWomen
There are a number of ways to handle a TEDx talk. My personal favorite is a technique I learned in journalism and honed during my time as a public speaking professor that combines content with time limits.
The first thing I do is I write for length. Even if what you’re writing is total gibberish, you write out the number of pages you think you need to fill the time you have. The average person will speak out one page of content in 45 seconds to a minute. For a 10 minutes talk, you will need 10-12 pages of content.
The trick is to get all the abstract thoughts out on paper. In my particular case, I ended up with 17 pages that were all over the place. Even when I submitted it for review, I knew it would be best used as mind-blowing mood enhancer for a philosophy group that met under colored lights and used “natural stimulants” to make sense of it all. But it was all there. Needless to say, the great feedback I received from TEDxWilmington reflected my preconceptions.
Now comes the fun part. I get to refine those great ideas to fit the space I need. So now I will review it to find the core element of the talk. Then I will coordinate everything around that element in the way preferred for TEDx talk presenters. Already, I’ve started to outline and edit the talk in my head. It’s going to make the talk clearer, easier to give, and far more powerful to hear for those in the audience. So I get to edit the talk to fit the time and still keep the fun I’m going to have in its presentation. The best of both worlds.
When I filled out my TEDxWilmington application, I didn’t know what it would be like. I had helped write a TEDx talk for a friend of mine as well as coached his presentation, so I figured I had the TEDx talk format down. But there is a big difference between being the coach and being the actual speaker.
The most important thing anyone must learn when they do anything outside their comfort zone has to do with the language of the culture involved. I had plenty public speaking experience and even spent time as an executive coach as well as a communications professor at the University of Wisconsin. But each forum has its own language. Some prefer statistics. Some prefer vulnerability. I had to figure out which one was the true language of a TEDx talk.
It didn’t hit me until the rehearsal. I had everything ready and even had to rely on my adaptability when all of my slides went blank in the middle of my practice talk. But then one of the coaches in the audience, Geoffrey Berwind, did something I will never forget. He said I needed to smile and accept responsibility for my words. But unlike the usual negative connotations to accept responsibility, I knew he wanted me to be present to the power of what I was about to tell the audience. People might be moved when I’m done and want to express that loudly and proudly. I needed to own that and let them have that moment. I didn’t need to run on and rush off the stage as if the auditorium was on fire.
So it was a great experience. I would recommend it for anyone who wants to make a difference in the world one story at a time. Thank you.
Watch Dr. Patrick Wright’s TEDx talk HERE.
Dr. Patrick Wright is a communications and media strategist, journalist, novelist, and consumer behavioral expert. In his 25-year career in media, he has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won local and national awards for a story about a Florida real estate scam, covered the California mortgage crisis before the 2008 Great Recession, and wrote speeches and content for corporate executives and national politicians, such as the late Sen. John McCain.
3rd Annual TEDxWilmingtonWomen: Showing Up // 30 November 2018