Thursday, February 19, 2009

TED FAQ III: presenting at TED and other questions

(photo credit: Erik Hersman)

Q. Did you give a TED talk? When can we see it?

The short answer is, yes, I did give a talk at TED. I doubt you will see it (thank god!) because I don't remember saying anything intelligent.

Just to give you some perspective, there are three speaker platforms at TED. The main TED stage (where the important invited speakers speak!), the TED University stage (where audience members apply to speak), and the TEDFellows stage (where the TEDFellows presented). Only the best talks make it onto

Minutes are a way of gauging your importance at TED. The more minutes you get, the more important your speech is perceived to be. The main stage speakers largely get 18 mins, with intermittent 3-5 min speakers. The TED University speakers get anywhere from 3-6 mins; and the TEDFellows get 3 mins.

So I gave a 3-min speech on the TEDFellows stage.

Q. What was your talk about??

It was entitled "What I learned about happiness." For weeks, I thought about all the topics that were most important to me, and I realized that most of my life has been in the quest for fulfillment and happiness. So in 3-mins I spelled out my biggest lesson about it. It wasn't rocket science, and everyone already knows about what I had to say.

I'm proud to say that I put a graph in my talk, making it a technical talk about happiness. :-) (see picture above!)

Q. Did all the Fellows speak about random things?

Nope. Most Fellows were smarter than me, doing exciting work, and presented about their work.

Q. What was it like to give your talk?

Even though it was a small room, with a small audience, I was extremely nervous. I practiced for days, late into the night and several times the next morning in the shower. (I can speak for my roommate too, who was equally nervous and doing the same thing!).

Three minutes go by VERY quickly. There is a giant red clock counting down your seconds and its all you see when you are up there. When your time is up, it starts blinking wildly. I don't remember what I said for the entire 2:59 of my talk. What I do remember is that the second I saw the blinking light, I forgot what I had to say and walked off the stage. The audience was nice enough to call me back and ask me to finish because I left them hanging (!!)

It was horrible. Thankfully its a blur!


Maria Brophy said...

DON'T be so hard on yourself! Remember, Woody Allen said "80% of Success is just showing up." Well, you showed up. You did it! Not an easy thing to do.

Give yourself credit for having the guts to get up in front of that many people.

Next time, practice more, time yourself, join Toastmasters and get ready.

Make sure you give yourself more changes to speak in public.

It's an inspiration to know that you got up there, despite your fears.

Maybe I can do it, too, some day.

Now, go pat yourself on the back for having guts!

pragzz said...

Thanks Maria, words of wisdom indeed! So sweet of you. :-)