What I learned from being TedEx speaker - practical conclusions

in psychology •  7 months ago


-- Hello, is this Nikita Grigoriev? Psychologist?
-- Yes, I'm listening ..
-- I'm calling from the organization "TedEx: Lasnamae". We would like to invite you as a speaker …

It is difficult to describe the emotions that I experienced at that moment, because becoming Ted speaker has long been my dream. Of course, I immediately agreed.

However, already a couple minutes later, my brain began to invent the most terrible scenarios:

  • I have nothing to tell
  • I do not have time to prepare the text
  • I can not learn a speech
  • and so on...

But, it was already too late to back off, and the chance to speak at a world-famous conference does not fall every day.

Speech topic is more difficult than it seems

As for the topic of the speech, the organizers gave me complete creative freedom. On one hand it seemed good, however, it turned out to be a problem. After all, you need to share something “important” and “special”. And during 5 years of work as a psychologist, such "important" and "special" topics have accumulated quite a lot. In the end, it turned out to be such an essence of everything I do. A kind of global theoretical foundation, on which I rely in my work.

After all, clients come with all kind of problems, but in the end, everything comes down to one thing: everyone wants to be happy.

This is how I ended up with topic: "Who Owns Your Happiness".

Copy-writing and preparations to speech

I am Ted speaker - sounds great, doesn't it! But most of the time I communicate with clients face to face, and I am absolutely lousy copywriter. Main word here is "absolutely".

To "give a birth" to a paragraph, it takes me about 2 hours. Maybe this is normal to write texts that long... But in addition to the conference, there is my work, my family, and I am also human, who needs to rest.

I got lucky - I’ve found a great tool that I continue to use to this day. It is Google Docs. It was not the text editor itself, that saved me, but one of its functions - Voice Typing.

This algorithm almost perfectly recognizes spoken language and turns it into text on the go. By the way, right now I am writing this article with it’s help.

As a result, creation of text looked like this:

  • On a separate post-it sheet I wrote a global idea - what is this speech is about.
  • Then, in the notebook, I wrote the theses. Basically, all that I have to tell on this topic.
  • From time to time, I edited the thesis so that each of them correlated with the general theme. (Already at this stage there were a lot of drafts, versions and variants. And some kind of structure has finally begun to loom.)
  • I turned each thesis into several paragraphs of text, with the help of voice typing. Obviously, it does not define punctuation marks and sometimes makes mistakes, so I edited each paragraph manually later on.

Eventually, I had a decent text in front of me.

As a result, when I read it aloud, with a timer, it turned out to be even more than required 18 minutes. So, I had to reduce and throw out some things.

When my "perfect" speech was ready, I have sent it to the curator (each speaker has a curator who helps to edit the speech during the preparation phase.) And of course it turned out that the speech seems "perfect" only to me :)

I received a huge number of comments which, I must admit, were very demotivating, but as a result they made the speech more harmonious and complete.

In the end, after almost 2 months of editing the initial text, it changed beyond recognition. It really became much better. And time has come to prepare myself for the performance on stage. That is, to learn speech and do something about the stage fear, which, I believe, is inherent in any person who does not appear before the public regularly.

As psychologist I study human brain and how it remembers and structures information. I’ll simplify here, but a large number of repetitions creates neural connections and information that must be memorized, physically, becomes part of the brain.

Therefore, the first thing I started to do, after finalizing the text, was to re-read it at any convenient moment: on the way to work, during lunch break and even in the toilet :) Within a few days I could already repeat the first few paragraphs by heart. In 2 weeks the text bounced off my teeth. I did this so, if I would hesitate on the stage, my brain would remember the next paragraph. Just like it recalls the chorus of an obsessive song. And it really worked!

During the speech, there were several moments when I lost it... but the necessary paragraph just surfaced in my memory. All thanks to the fact that I had repeated the entire speech, from beginning to end, 10-15 times a day.
Actually, memorizing the text is not a good practice - it is much better to memorize the theses and practice freely expressing your thoughts, following from one thesis to another. I totally agree with it when it comes to lectures in a more or less free format. However, Ted speech is limited to 18 minutes, and it is necessary to include as much as possible useful information in these 18 minutes. So I placed a bet on memorizing, and it seems to me that it was the right choice in this case.

Actually, there was one awkward moment.

The day before the performance, there was a final rehearsal. I had to do tell the whole speech from beginning to end just as I will tell it the next day.

And so, when I went upstairs and turned to the hall, something clicked in my head. I realized that I do not remember a single word . It took me a few minutes to get my shit together, and I stammered, got really confused and barely finished my speech. Even though, the hall was empty.

I suddenly realized that making a speech in the car on the way to work, and standing directly on the stage is a huge difference. Therefore, already on the day of the conference, at any time, during breaks between the speakers, I approached the stage, turned to audience, looked at the hall and imagined myself giving the speech. So that my brain has chance to get used to it.

This really helped me to handle the stress in the first seconds of actual speech. The hall filled with people, now was not something shocking, but rather somewhat recognisable.

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  • Do dream - it turns out, dreams do come true.
  • Your brain constantly gives rise to fears. This is it’s way of protecting you from possible danger. The fact is that the danger, it is trying to protect you from does not exist. You will not die if you try! Here's what you can do with it: Listen to your fear and tell your brain - "Thank you, I have heard you. But despite this, I'm going to try, because I know for sure that I will not die. Brave is not someone who is not afraid. Brave is one, who fears, but does what has to be done."
  • The first version will never be perfect. This demotivates, and can easily lead to procrastination. However, without the first version you will never come to the best version. Either you do it or you do not. As simple as that.
  • Even constructive criticism is demotivating. Do not take it as a criticism of yourself. Accept this as a feedback, aimed at your growth. It is better to hear the criticism before the speech and work on it, rather than to listen to the criticism of the speech itself, and understand that nothing can be changed already.
  • If something does not work out, do not get stuck in this "uncomfortable position" - It is the 21st century! There are a huge number of tools that can help with any task. Keep your eyes peeled and do not be afraid to try something new.
    Whatever tools and innovations you are using, you still will have to do some work. Your brain is a universal tool that evolution has been creating for millions of years. All it needs is a vector of work and time.
  • Before the presentation: find the opportunity to look at the hall from the stage. The more often - the better. The brain gets used to the audience and softens the shock in the first seconds of entering the stage.

That’s it! I will be happy to answer your questions. And I will also be glad to hear your comments and criticism.

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