“How I Found Courage to Face and Forgive My Attacker” – Watch HERE.
3rd Annual TEDxWilmingtonWomen: Showing Up // 30 November 2018
Meet the Speakers: Mandy Bass for TEDxWilmingtonWomen
Since my acceptance to be a speaker at TEDxWilmingtonWomen two short weeks ago, I’ve been on a rollercoaster. Last week I rode effortlessly to the top of the hill, enormously grateful to be selected from over 200 applicants, breathing in the thrilling opportunity to positively impact the world, excited about the possibilities around the bend.
“What a rush that will be!” I said, as I crafted my outline, imagining myself looking out at the TEDxWilmington audience. My chest expanded thinking about what will surely be a peak experience.
Then I look down to see what comes next. My stomach clenches and I feel myself dropping precipitously into a heart-stopping dive. Adrenalin pumping, I am screaming inside, “What? I only have ten short minutes? But you can’t do anything in ten minutes.”
Panic creeps into my awareness. Get me off this ride!
“Breathe!” I tell myself. Then I google: “What can you do in ten minutes?”
In my research I discover that every ten minutes people generate 25,000 tons of garbage and 3 million tons of ice melts in Antarctica. A lot can happen in ten minutes.
Instantaneously, I am back in my seat, enjoying the ride, relaxed and smiling as confidence rushes into my veins. I know that my message about fear and forgiveness will change lives.
Suddenly a corkscrew bend appears from nowhere: My first blog post due in an hour. How did that get here so fast? I stare at the blank page. What I was thinking when I decided to get on this ride?
I sit down at my computer and start typing. 350 words later, I take a deep breath and look out the window as the sun peeks out from behind a cloud and my worries melt like fog in sunlight. I have fourteen minutes to spare.
I step off the rollercoaster — but only for a while — itching for another ride.
the TEDx process: Mandy Bass for TEDxWilmingtonWomen
10 Things I’ve Learned About Preparing a 10-Minute TEDx Talk
- You are not your audience. Get feedback. Lots of it.
- If you are a little thin skinned this strategy could help: Imagine you have a plexi-glass shield surrounding you and when people offer feedback, see whatever they say as necessary information, signals on the road in front of you, guiding you to change direction, slow down, speed up or make a detour. Allow whatever you perceive as criticism to splatter on the glass like bird poop on a windshield. Just wash it away and let it go.
- Accept that a ten-minute talk will likely take more than ten times longer to write than a twenty minute one. The good news is that you will have half as much to memorize.
- Accept the fact that no matter how good you think your first draft is, there is a lot of room for improvement. Ditto for the second draft and the third. The more rewriting you do, the better it will be. Try to see each version as one step closer to your best.
- Implement Chris Anderson’s valuable advice on naming your drafts: Each time you create a new version of your talk, save it as a new document with an easily identifiable name such as v1 TEDx talk; then v2 TEDx talk etc. By placing the number at the beginning of the document’s name, you can more easily locate the “Right” version when you need it.
- Saving old drafts will give you peace of mind that you won’t lose any good bits you may want to reconsider later, and you can edit without fear.
- It is true: you have no words to waste — but put that fact out of your mind when you are starting out, or you will stymie your creative process. Start off by pretending there is no time limit and record or write everything you want to say about your idea. Often the best ideas are afterthoughts.
- After you have written your first draft take out the best fifteen minutes and save that as version 2. Ask yourself: Is the “big idea” clear? Have I introduced the through-line early enough? Does the theme weave through the entire talk? Are there any segments that may be good but don’t really forward the one idea I want to share? (delete them)
- Read the script aloud and talk it out as you go. Are you using words sentences and phrases that are natural to the way you typically speak? If not, rewrite.
Is your opening attention grabbing? Can you improve your close and call to action? Can you be more concise? Edit. Rewrite. Is there a shorter way to get this part across? Edit again. You are now ready for your first round of feedback.
I am so happy, humbled and grateful to have had the experience of speaking at TEDxWilmingtonWomen last week. The day of the event was almost surreal. Like a symphony in slow motion, a peak experience, worth every second of sacrifice, every moment spent.
Though I traveled the thousand-mile journey from Florida alone, I felt incredibly supported by the dedicated, generous and talented organizing team, led by Ajit Mathew George, and fellow speakers, all of whom did a beautiful job crafting ad delivering their words of wisdom. It is truly an honor to be a part of this tribe.
As I reflect on the whole experience, three things stand out as being most important for aspiring TEDx speakers, and/or those preparing for their big day:
When I first began preparing my TEDx talk “How to Build Your Courage Muscle,” the presentation was light years away from the final version. Now I realize that quite unconsciously my past speaking experience and personal agendas influenced my judgement in the beginning. Without candid feedback from people I respected, I don’t think I would have been able to have that awareness.
In some ways I think that the less experience you have as a speaker, in this environment, the easier the preparation may be. That is because experienced speakers (myself included) understandably tend to lack humility when it comes to creating their talks. As a result, they tend to be less flexible and responsive to feedback.
A TEDx talk is a very different than what most speakers are used to. It is about the idea, not about you or your expertise. And it is short. Very short. Without a lot of feedback and the help of my professional coaches, there is no way I could have created as much impact in ten minutes. Of course, accepting and integrating advice from others requires one to be flexible and open. That is why I put flexibility at the top of the list.
As the process unfolded, the overarching theme for me became one of discernment and focus. Before working on my talk each day, I would bring to mind a symbol from Vedic Mythology, the Kala Hamsa Swan, that symbolizes Wisdom. The interesting thing about this mythical bird is that it drinks milk, ingesting ONLY the cream. It leaves the water behind. It is that kind of discrimination that produces a great TEDx talk. It is a constant culling, a continual evolution and pruning of non-essentials to produce a small valuable gift to share with the world.
Once the git is wrapped, it takes practice to deliver it. A lot of it.
A week later, this sacred journey continues to nourish my soul. Now I pray that my message of courage, compassion and forgiveness will touch the hearts of people around the globe, and in some small way, make a difference in the world.
Watch Mandy Bass’ TEDx talk HERE.
3rd Annual TEDxWilmingtonWomen: Showing Up // 30 November 2018