About two months ago, I applied to speak at TEDxManitoba. I did it on a whim. I didn’t plan on being selected. I didn’t want to jinx it. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would be good enough. Needless to say, I was thrilled, nervous, excited and … conflicted… when I received an email saying that I had been selected to speak. And I was honored. Mostly, I was honored actually, so I went to the first meeting feeling like I needed to live up to the faith that the selection committee showed in me.
I wanted to write a blog post talking about how honored I was, but I had a talk to write. And I couldn’t write it anyways since the speakers hadn’t been announced at that point. So I buckled down to write my talk. I wrote what I thought was going to be the greatest talk I’d ever give.
At this point, we had a meeting to go over how to build our speech. As it happened, this meeting was given by my new speaker buddy Joseph (@JosephRanseth). Also, I realized the talk I thought was so good, was terrible. I sat back down and tried to rewrite my talk. No, I had to start from scratch. So I tried to find ways to use what Joseph talked about, I tried to find out what I wanted to say and I tried to write my speech anew. I’m so thankful I met Joseph and was at that meeting. I might not have realized that I needed to change what I was planning as much as I really did.
I felt like I worked really hard leading up to our first rehearsal about 3 weeks before the event. I had much of my talk written out. And I was frantically working to get a couple slides together and try to finish a bit more of my talk. I didn’t even practice, which might not have been the best idea, but at least this was rehearsal. I went up, did my talk that I was aiming for 12 minutes, and I clocked in at 3 minutes 30 seconds.
As tired as I felt, I realized then that I needed to work even harder. So I did. I worked hard to complete my talk. With Joseph’s help I was able to basically complete my talk over the next two weeks. I’m so grateful that my girlfriend put up with me for those two weeks. I would nearly isolate myself trying to write. You know I’m going to make it up to you somehow. I appreciate all the support and I hope you know how much it meant to me. I was feeling good, with one exception. I still had to memorize the speech.
This was easier said than done, since I was playing in a frisbee tournament the weekend before the event. I had a total of 7 games through that Saturday and Sunday. During breaks, I would sit on the sideline listening an audio recording of myself talking, trying to memorize my whole speech.
At this point, I was tired of hearing myself talk. I kept listening because I had to, but I also needed something to inspire me. I saw this video by Abigail Harrison (@AstronautAbby) speaking at TEDxTampaBay. I loved it. She’s fantastic. I have no doubt she’ll reach her dream of going to Mars. If I could do half the job she did, I’d be thrilled with my talk. Thank you Abigail. You inspired me to do the best speech of my life.
So the day arrived. I watched some amazing talks (cough… Ted Geddert!.. cough). I had a blast talking to people, listening backstage to our great emcees Aisha Alfa (@aishaalfa) and Ismaila Alfa (@CBCIsmaila). Then finally I went on. I spoke as well as I could, mostly thanks to the support, help and inspiration of my family, my speaker buddy, the other speakers, all the volunteers at TEDxManitoba and last but not least all the attendees.
In the end, I’ve loved this experience. I’m grateful. And humbled. I hope you enjoy the talk, which I’ll post to the blog once there’s a permanent link on youtube. If you find my words inspiring, it’s because others helped me find my words. If you think them brutish, I’m the brute, though I was sincere. I hope this inspires you. As Abigail would say, find your Mars.