Meet the Speakers: Renae Baker for TEDxWilmingtonWomen
For 8 months I’d had a photo of a woman giving a TEDx talk on a visualization board I looked at every day. Over the summer I finished writing my first book. Feeling passionate about helping people harness the power of music, I formed the idea of a talk with my amazing speaking coach, Geoffrey Berwind. He encouraged me to apply to give a TEDxWilmington talk ASAP. I had attended a TEDxWilmington event in April, and became a volunteer there to be around the vibrant energy and to get familiar with process. I thought that being a volunteer would make the venture feel more natural and less intimidating. I was impressed with the the lengthy application process. I applied. I waited. Giving this talk in November was already an accepted reality in my head, but when I received the email informing me that I’d been selected, I started physically shaking out of excitement and fear! NOW it was real. On top of my upcoming book launch, I also run a company of Broadway holiday carolers in New York City, so I knew that I had to get right down to meeting the TEDx deadlines. I met the deadline for the first seven items immediately with loads of time to spare. I was concerned, and still am, about the ten minute time allotment I’ve been given. I knew I’d need to make painful cuts in my talk. In the past week I have trimmed out fun, scientific ideas that didn’t focus tightly enough on my through line. That helped, but I’m still going over time, if I want to lead an audience participation element that I feel would demonstrate my idea in a fun and immediate way. So, I’m memorizing, blogging, video taping, book launching, booking and rehearsing my carolers simultaneously!
the TEDx process: Renae Baker for TEDxWilmingtonWomen
I’ve realized something: Creating a streamlined talk is a power tool to help me define and refine my message; i.e. a laser focus on what my life’s work is at this moment. I thought I’d had a pretty good idea about what my life’s work was all about, but having to distill my message so that it sticks to one idea has made me “choose from among my children” of ideas, and let the most urgent, useful and timely rise to the top. It was difficult to cut out some of my favorite discoveries, which are related to my talk, but it was eye-opening to realize that those ideas weren’t directly related to this core idea. I had even hired an anatomic illustrator to create power point images of parts of the brain discussed in one idea I had to let go.
Creating an outline was interesting and informative to me. Memorizing what I want to say has been helped by finding pneumonic devices for the end words from one paragraph to the beginning words of the next. This not only helped me memorize, but helped me have FUN. Realizing that I find connecting with people, while sharing this idea is truly FUN for me, helps me relax into being “me” and let go of stress. The prospect of getting one’s messages out in the form of a TEDx talk is immensely daunting. I counsel myself to put aside thoughts of how the youtube video of the talk could change the world for the better, and focus on how I will enjoy my time connecting with that particular audience in front of me on November 30. I have a short audience participation portion in my talk. I’ve “sprung” it on two groups of people. Delighted that it works!
I am the director of a company of holiday carolers in NYC. TEDxWilmingtonWomen was on Friday, Nov. 30, and that weekend was not only our busiest weekend of the holiday season (think tree lightings and town festivals) but it rained, causing cancellations and postponements of some of the outdoor events, rebooking, recasting and still spreading joy on the events that were not cancelled.
Having had a day to recover from all of the excitement, I am now focused on my TEDxWilmington experience, which has been like a cloud under my feet these past few days.
I drove two hours to Wilmington, DE on Thursday for the rehearsal. I arrived early and was able to steal some time on the stage with my brilliant speaker coach, Geoffrey Berwind. I’m also an acting coach. Even we need coaching. Geoffrey gave me some insightful adjustments in my movements.
Rehearsal day was long and stressful. Anyone who sets out to give a TEDx talk has my admiration. Among the reasons are that these people have a heart for the world and want to help it – AND go through this rigorous process to meet the TED standards. As we rehearsed, many of us blundered. The thought of our live’s work getting out there on such a platform and actually changing the world for the better is daunting! I felt it. I decided I had to forget about the TED youtube video and the live stream of the event, and just concentrate on that audience in front of me. They were incredibly responsive!
I felt great about my talk! I received feedback from the audience that showed me that my talk had already had a life-affirming affect on this audience.
I’m going over my 300 words, but I have to finish by acknowledging:
Ajit, the organizer of TEDxWilmington, is one of the most curious, appreciative, diligent, raising-the-bar people I’ve ever met. I’m unspeakably grateful to have met him and been brought on board as a speaker at this event of his!
The TEDxWilmington tribe, volunteering your time and good energy – you have my heart.
My fellow speakers – One can’t know until one experiences this, just how immediately a family is created when people who care greatly enough about humanity to put their ideas out there together. My fellow speakers were all so supportive of each other. I hope we always stay connected!
Watch Renae Baker’s TEDx talk HERE.
3rd Annual TEDxWilmingtonWomen: Showing Up // 30 November 2018