I have a date with TEDx. Nov. 8 at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY. Our meetup was arranged by TEDx Chemung River. TED (Technology, Education, and Design) is a global nonprofit committed to the power of shared ideas, and TEDx is an independently organized TED event.
I just call him Little TED. My TED has a wide square jaw and blue penetrating eyes. Clean shaven with a military cut. Muscular and lean in a well-tailored suit. He could be Arnold’s cousin. TED works out.
I have sixteen minutes to sway this guy. I know how to give a reading, but can’t hide behind my book. I have to know what matters to me. I have to speak from the heart.
I applied six months ago. Give a talk in under 18 minutes? I can do that. About something significant to me? OK. Significant to the world? Maybe. Give with conviction and passion without notes? Daunting.
In late May, a package arrived at my door with a TEDx water bottle, party favors, and treats. The note said “We can’t wait to see your idea come to life.”
My idea? What had I done?
I wanted to pull into my shell. The meetup was months away, but organizers needed outlines and abstracts, titles and Power Point slides. They meant business.
I went to TEDx Chemung River salons and watched TED talks at home. I read blogs about creating TED talks and read a book called Talk Like TED. By midsummer, I settled down and wrote. TED demanded creativity. He craved new ideas or a unique expression of old ideas. He didn’t care if I was busy with my book launch. He demanded action.
I named my talk “Good Grief! What I Learned from Loss.” Our culture hides from grief, but I pushed ahead. I wrote a script. I rewrote it and read it to friends. I edited and read and edited more. How could I convince TED that grief can be a sacred teacher? Since we can’t escape sorrow, how can I help people deal with it better?
I have one shot to give the talk of my life to this TED dude—and the 200 plus people in the audience. I hope my ideas will join the growing discussion about creating a conscious relationship with grief and death.
I met with my TEDx coach and asked for help from many experts. I worked each week with a generous theater director and friend. I practiced when I woke up and at the end of each day. I spoke the words in the car and on the trail.
“I can’t remember this. It’s too hard,” I moaned months ago.
“You’re 20% there,” Coach Dennis said with a smile. “Now learn the next section.”
“No more revisions,” I told myself last month, but the words insist on their own flow.
First time I gave the talk to the TEDx Chemung River coaches, I was nervous and unprepared. The second time was better, but not good enough. I had time.
I only have days now. I’m still practicing.
Talks will be livestreamed from Corning Museum of Glass on Nov. 8. I should be on between 1:45 and 3:00 pm. In December, the video will be posted at TEDx Chemung River and on my media page. Thanks to Colleen Parsons, Meghan Parsons, Dennis Dore, Lauren Chamblis, Regi Carpenter, and many others who patiently listened and gave me feedback. Thanks to all the dedicated organizers of TEDx Chemung River. It takes a village!