Aka… how I threw out habits from a decade of keynote speaking in preparation for my second TEDx talk
“The woman on the stage is weaving wonder, not witchcraft. But her skills are as potent as any sorcery.”
—Chris Anderson, TED Curator, “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking”
I thought I was a good speaker. I had keynoted at industry conferences and spoken at South by Southwest on behalf of Facebook, undergoing grueling media training to ensure that my talk and responses to audience questions wouldn’t lead to negative press. I had crafted and delivered countless presentation decks to sell brilliant concepts to the world’s top brands as well as to create product visions for many tech companies. As a designer, I was proud of the minimal-yet-elegant slide design, the animation effects (always keynote, never powerpoint), and use of video and memes for sly humor.
Through COVID and working remotely, I patted myself on the back as I learned to improvise and give talks with no slides (while writing fancy blog posts about the process).
And… the experience of my first TEDx talk in New York and my current preparation for my second talk at TEDxRutgersCamden have completely humbled me.
There are three parts of delivering a TEDx talk that have stood out in my process:
Part 1: The Idea
I tend to be cerebral. In past talks, I’ve spent 90% — who am I kidding… actually 99% — of my time outlining the content of the talk. This next TEDx is on Asian American women and it’s based on the months of research I’ve been conducing for my second book, Hardworking Rebels: How to Lead as Asian American Women.
The content really matters to me. The points have to be data-backed, from reputable sources, and the findings should be original and surprising. I’ve spent the hard work outlining each point and making sure that viewer can follow along.
Now I’ve realized that that’s only the first step. It’s a crucial and important step, but probably only 50% of the effort and energy needed to deliver an idea worth spreading.
Aside: You can find many more sources online about finding your idea… this article is focused on the delivery.