Travelling with TEDx

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Travelling with TEDx. It’s been such an adventure.

I’ve done plenty of speaking over the years on people management, leadership, teamwork, employer of choice. I’ve spoken to small groups, large auditoriums and every point in between.

TEDx was different. This was light years away from my old comfort zone. This time I was talking about retrofit and the building profession. I was no longer the expert. Now I was just a well-informed citizen talking about my passion: leaving a world that all our grandkids could feel safe in.

Watch my TEDx talk here

This was much more personal

I’ve always told stories in my talks – it just makes it more fun. But this time the stories were about me. That was a whole new experience. I no longer had to be the professional. This time I could be passionate, self revealing and personal. It took a while to get used to.

The more I got into it, the more I enjoyed it. This was finally me talking – my own experience and my own understanding. And finally I could reach out about the thing that mattered to me most – this amazing planet and the future of all our grandchildren. In the face of this, everything else pales into insignificance.

So I got writing

Preparation for TEDx St Albans was like nothing I’ve ever done before. The plan of action was laid out before the auditions, so no point in applying if you weren’t up for it. It looked like a lot of opportunity to me – new interesting people, one off the bucket list, a very new experience. What’s not to love?

By the middle of August (slightly ahead of timetable) I had a working draft ready and signed off. The major challenge was get my point across in 12 minutes.

In the old days, I had slides to remind me and a rough idea of timing, so it was much less pressured. This time the clock was paramount, so I needed to be word perfect. From late August to end of October, I spoke out loud on every walk I took. Looked like a real weirdo! 

It was all going well, then my daughter Miriam listened in. This was quality coaching from a drama teacher. She shifted the talk up a level. Much more interesting now, more engaging and…. 15 minutes long. Turns out drama takes time!

Then covid hit

I avoided covid for all these years and it gets me three weeks before the TEDx. I was just clear in time for the dress rehearsal. By conference week I was at the exhausted, brain fog stage. Perfect – just what I needed!

The worst moment was at the evening dinner for sponsors and speakers. A lovely occasion that I’d been looking forward to. I walked through the door and realised I had no idea when the conference was being held. Was it the next day? Was it next week? I tried asking, but it came out like a joke, so no help there. Finally someone said it was good to have a day in between the dinner and the conference to rest up. Phew.

You can imagine the stress: would I remember the way to the theatre? What day it was? What I wanted to say? Never mind that I might cough my way through. I dosed up, swigged cough mixture and talked at a pile of props backstage at every opportunity.

Was it OK?

I had to ask. Stepping off the stage I had no memory of what happened. Apparently I’d been pretty close to word perfect. But had I put in all the bits that would make it interesting? Only time would tell.

The relief when I saw the video was huge – it was OK. Not perfect, but covid had not beaten me and I got my message across. All that practice had paid off. The talk was in my bones and  I’ll probably never forget it!

End result?

As hoped for – I have some lovely new people in my life who are super supportive. I’ve crossed one off the bucket list. Got a couple of new titles: Queen of Insulation and Poster Granny for Retrofit.

Most important, the whole experience has booted me into the next stage of my mission. We can do this if we all work together, We can’t save the world on our own, but we can certainly do our bit.

“So now it’s time to show up, take our place in the team and make our homes part of the solution”

You can watch my TEDx talk here 

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