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Life's Little Surprises and my First TED Talk

Kelly Bos

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TAKING THE INOPPORTUNE OPPORTUNITIES ANYWAY

When you first watch a TED talk, you become hooked on the platform, the diversity of the talks, and the unifying presentations. I have learned so much from them; I use them as counseling resources and share them regularly. Careers have soared, important studies and causes brought to light, and information shared. There are even people who call themselves TED-sters, who listen to playlists of speakers while they eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And for many people doing a TED talk has now become a bucket list item.

I am often asked what path brought me to doing a TED talk. Truth be told, the path for doing this talk didn't make any sense. The timing was completely off. My husband even questioned my sanity for adding one more thing to our already over-scheduled life. But something in me said to go for it. So I did.

 

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This was the beginning of TEDx for me. I had a busy baby; ever increasing work demands to manage; a six year-old daughter with lessons, pick ups, and drop offs to organize; and a house that was always lacking in care -dishes to be done, floors to be swept, lunches to be packed.

The experience itself was phenomenal, but the rigour of preparing the talk was daunting, and the timing was less than ideal. Something in me still wanted to try. I pitched my idea and felt calm, releasing the idea like a butterfly taking flight from cupped hands.

I let it go. If it was to be, great! If not, also fine.

My talk was approved; was in! Now it was time to draft this idea worth sharing. It was during the early stages of writing that I found out to my horror that I had no passion for my initially pitched idea and therefore no inspiration. I sent both a new topic and draft to the organizers. They too came back, but with red lines and x's, all of which were fair points.

Then came draft two. Draft two didn't even make it to the organizers. I searched for inspiration, and as often happens, I found it via a meaningful moment with my daughter. Out of it, draft three was born.

My talk contains strategies I use regularly with clients: common pitfalls we all face and bits of me. TED talks are unlike many speaking opportunities. You aren't exactly teaching, lecturing, performing, or entertaining. This draft was what I wanted to share, and the closest I could conceive to the TED idea of having a conversation from the stage with only you talking. I released it, feeling very strongly that this is my talk and the conversation I wanted to have. Again I let it go, if I didn't nail the TED approach this round, I knew that was okay, I was new at this, I could learn and try again next year. I would often tell others, “This isn't self deprecation; I might not have what they want.”

It turned out that they liked it!

A few more changes occurred, and then came the memorizing, the reviewing of speaking tips, the practicing, and the practicing in front of others. I was told to do it 100 times. It was on my lips as I went to bed. The beginning sentences would be my waking stream of consciousness. I then flew to the Cayman Islands, 100 plus run-throughs under my belt.

When I met with the other speakers, some who speak for a living, a surge of relief hit me as familiar concerns, nervousness and questions were asked about what to do if you forgot a line, what to wear... do they change half way through the day?, and how they too went through draft changes as well as topic adjustments. I was with my people. We had two days together, and we were bonded through the monumental task we had all spent months and months - perhaps even years - gearing up to.

 

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The day itself was wonderful. I was first up. This was both daunting and a relief as it would mean getting it over with and enjoying the rest of the day.

I went up, delivered my talk, and was a mixture of happy with it and glad to be done. When I left the stage, I was greeted by one of the organizers who shared compliments and kudos and then added that I would... wait for it... have to do it again.

“Wait what?” Yes, I had heard correctly! I had to do it again to the same crowd due to some microphone issues. Our talks were also on live feed that day, so my husband congratulated me on the phone, but was thrilled to hear I had to repeat it. He too, not wanting to say, had noticed the mic issues. So after two more live talks and a couple of piped in speakers, I shared my talk again with the audience.

It could've gone one of two ways, but it went well. I felt confident that this audience was rooting for the poor speaker that had to do it all over, and after it was done, I thought the second take was even better for me. I felt more confident, spoke a little louder, my slide worked this time, and the mic was no longer rubbing on my shirt. A bucket list item checked, leaving me free to eat the wonderful food, watch my inspiring colleagues and enjoy the accomplishment.

I love this quote by Amy Poehler: “Great people do things before they're ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you're afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that- that's what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that's really special, and if you're not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself.”

I am thankful for the experience, for all that I found out about myself and for the opportunity to try. Will I do it again? Maybe, but for now I am enjoying some post TED satisfaction. Thanks to everyone for the encouragement, support and for watching. And without further adieu... here it is...