Most trainers and speakers aspire to speak on platforms like TEDx / TED. So did I. It took me more than a year to get an opportunity. I have been speaking on the stage, both in English and Hindi, since I was in Class 7. Throughout my Army career, addressing various audiences was a regular practice. Oration came to me naturally. Yet, this TEDx experience was entirely different. The last time I did anything like this was a 20 minutes lecturette in Staff College in 1983.
Let me share some of my experience with my speaker friends who aspire to speak at TEDx.
- Format - TEDx format is different. For a 18 minutes talk I need 18 hours of preparation; for a 30 mins talk I need 5-6 hours; for an hour and above, I can talk right now. I read this somewhere and found it so true. This is a tough format and the TIMER dominates the show. For me it was as if a driver who has driven a car for 20 years is asked to drive a truck. The fundamentals are the same but it’s a different skill altogether – a different ball game.
- Content - The idea is the point of focus here. It takes priority over speaking skills, I felt. An idea that has a story or a strong message / lesson and can be conveyed effectively in 18 minutes.
- Script - I had to write and re-write a script several times, which I have never done for my trainings / speaking assignments. Here it is important. It must be structured, in proper flow in less than 2000 words.
- Rehearsals - In a TEDx format, the rehearsals are extremely important. Audio recording my speech and listening to it before sleeping, driving, walking etc helped. Then I switched to video to correct my body language and gestures. As per advice I carried out two rehearsals on the stage. This is a must, if possible. Getting familiar with the stage conditions helps a lot.
- Guidance - Rehearsal in front of a friend or a few friends who are willing to give you honest, constructive FeedForward is another must. I must thank Toastmaster and TEDx speaker Harsimran Singh who was a real support and help. Bijay Gautam also witnessed my final rehearsal in Delhi and that was a great help, too.
- Time - It is better to plan and rehearse a script in 15 to maximum 16 minutes. This ensures that you will finish in time. My rehearsed speech was 16 minutes but on the stage I clocked 17 mins 47 secs. Keeping that allowance is necessary, I feel.
- Innovation - Use of props, or something different helps. Use slides only if they add an impact or else do without them. Its better.
- Audience - I thought keeping the online audience, which will watch the video on You Tube, is more important than the audience present in the hall. That impact is temporary.
TEDx is a unique experience. I loved it and am looking forward to more opportunities. I am willing to help and guide those who wish to speak on this coveted platform. For more interaction connect with me. In the remarks column let me know what you are looking for.
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