It was in the fall of last year when I got the message from a Facebook friend that I hadn’t met yet.
“Have you ever considered public speaking?”
I stalled. I hadn’t actually, but I’m always interested in what people have to say, so I paused and said, “It depends on in what capacity.”
This is how I learned of the TEDx Grande Prairie event being hosted in Peace River. It would be a bit of a tight timeline, but the event was to happen on January 19th, 2019, and I would have a few months to prepare my talk, ensure it fit the theme, and have it nailed down to an art.
I applied, thinking that it was a total pie in the sky idea. What are the chances that I’d be chosen to do a TEDx talk?? I mean, did I really have an idea worth sharing?
After the interview, I thought there was likely no chance, but sure enough, I got the call saying I’d need to get writing, because I was going to be in the speaker line up for TEDx!
At this point, reality began setting in.
The last time I’d been on stage was in 1998 for a theatre production I’d been in. I never played leading roles, so even at that, my appearances were short, usually funny and that was it.
So here I was over 20 years later, ready to step on stage for the FIRST time, diving in head first to do a TEDx talk. How does this even happen to a person?
I procrastinated, I brainstormed, I prepped, I poked my eyeballs out, I stressed, I digressed. I was getting nowhere. I had a great outline but in order for me to actually put that into a speech, I’d need to focus. I felt so scattered I didn’t think that would ever happen.
Thanks to a good friend who came over and mostly started at me in disbelief and shook her head a lot, I was able to translate my cryptic notes to something that actually looked like a speech with an idea worth sharing. I had done it.
Boy had I done it…. I was going to have to practice this speech until I hated it, and then I would still probably forget what I was saying.
I then created slides. That helped immensely to create visual cues. After this I realized that the slides would have probably helped me to write the whole speech, but to be honest, even though this was suggested to me at the time by someone much wiser than I, it wasn’t until I had presented that I realized what that meant.
I was only a few days away from my sojourn from Turner Valley up to Peace River. I was feeling grossly underprepared, but it was at that point that I just let go.
I’d practiced a ton and had read my speech until I hated it. I’d talked about nothing but this talk. I video recorded it. I audio recorded it. It was time to give my head a break.
My husband, my children and I drove through the Boreal Forest the longest way possible due to my bad navigating in a blizzard. My husband nicknamed it the “boring old forest” because he loves to tease me incessantly. Arriving at the hotel after a long trip, I slept as best I could squished in a double bed with my two younger boys.
We had an amazing breakfast in the morning in the hotel and I was finally able to meet two of the people behind the organizing committee, Tosh Mugambi and Dave Doyle. I joked around with Dave saying “surely you could have found someone more impactful to put last??!!”
Not only was I set to be doing my first ever public speaking gig, but I was also the anchor for the night. I would be the last talk. This meant I had to pack a punch.
I wasn’t overwhelmingly nervous the day of the event. A few of my closest longtime friends were there to watch, and so was my husband. In fact, I sat with Chase and watched all of the speeches, right up until the one right before mine. At that point I zoned out and my knees started shaking. Violently.
“THIS IS NOT THE TIME!” I told myself, annoyed that my body and my mind weren’t on the same team!
I walked on stage after they called my name, without tripping over my high heeled boots, and the rest is history! YouTube history, that is.
You can watch the full speech here.
It’s also right in this post if you keep scrolling down.
To summarize, I had a few moments where I stumbled on my words, but all in all, I think for my first time speaking in front of 200 people, I didn’t do half bad. My biggest hope of course is that everyone hears the message and takes something away from it! That’s the most important part! So if you haven’t already, please do give it a listen!
It was such an honor to have had the opportunity to share my story. I’m so grateful for that question at the start, that led me to here! Special thanks to Victoria Champion for the push, and for organizing a killer event!
Also special thanks to my dear friends Michelle and Charlene and Dan and Char’s mom Barbara for being in attendance that night! That meant a lot!
Of course, I cannot end this without saying thanks to Chase, for driving up there with me in a blizzard with a vehicle full of children, for enduring my speech a thousand times before the event and for being the reason I wanted to do better for myself.
TED’s mission is to “Spread Ideas.” They are a non-profit organization that began in 1984 as a conference about Technology, Entertainment and Design. Nowadays, it covers all types of topics, and there are also many TEDx events that are independently organized under the TED banner to help share ideas in many communities!
For more information on the TED platform click here.
For more information on TEDx Grande Prairie click here.