I gave my TedEx Talk in January of 2018.
I am republishing my reflection here:
I have never been much of a public speaker. Yet, what can I say? I jump at opportunities that challenge me. However, at first, I never thought that I could give a TedEx talk. I have never given a public speech, never talked in front of an audience (other than MUN), and never lead a discussion, sharing my ideas and thoughts. I was feeling extremely anxious, nervous that I was not good enough to give the talk and pure fear at the thought of giving it. I think the gravity of actually giving the talk had not approached till about a few weeks before the date arrived. The nerves that were suppressed, inflated. All rising, like a perfect theoretical plot, to its climax the minute before I was about to give my speech. I remember going through all the comic tropes of an anxious person: pacing back and fro, pulling out my hair, and then becoming frigidly still. Aside from not being a public speaker, I was also not a performer. Being center stage, with all eyes on me, though being part of school drama or dance productions, never appealed to me. For these reasons, I will never forget the 10 minutes before I gave my speech and the 10 minutes after.
While preparing for TedEx, what kept on being my motivation was the topic of my talk. Truly, I wanted to share my ideas and was constantly bewildered by the fact that I had such an opportunity. I remember the weeks leading up to TedEx were a complete haze. TedEx formal discussions and meet-ups began in around November, December. Around these times were the Grade 10 Mocks. Because of this, my time was conflicted. I argued that the Grade 10 Mocks happens now, while I still have the winter holiday to work on my TedEx presentation. So that is what I did. During my December holiday, I worked and reworked on the talk’s thesis and researched. It was a leaden time, where I was struggling to create a speech that I thought met this arbitrary level I had set for myself. When I would do this speech, I would say to myself, it will have to be done to the highest quality I could possibly give. I was in a sort of bind during that holiday and struggled to produce anything I was proud of.
The next important time period before the talk was the weeks leading up to it. It happened so, that I was still making revisions and editing my speech till the last minute. I read books on how to give a Ted Talk and watched countless TedEx talks to see how other people were presenting. Time and time again, it came up on how the speech must be natural, like telling a story. This was definitely aimed at someone who was a more natural public speaker, which I definitely was not. As you can see, I had to overcome many internal struggles to give this talk; it took a lot out of me. Having a conversation with the audience was beyond me at this point, so I tried to just follow the outline of my speech that I had written. Perhaps in the last week, it happened such that I was annoyed at the state that my script was in, and wanted to start afresh. I opened a new document and retyped the whole thing. I had already been practicing so I knew the whole gist of it and some good lines. I retyped it from the heart this time. A more authentic and unrefined version. Those weeks before the talk were a blur. The meetings I had with the advisors proved immeasurably valuable. They really helped to calm my nerves, and assured me that I could do this.
The day of, I was jumping up and down, literally. Before I gave the talk, from sheer fear, after the talk, pure adrenaline. I remember, while giving the talk, looking at the audience and connecting with them. I saw my teacher listening to what I had to say, and at that moment, it materialized, that feeling of being empowered and saying things that people listen to. It was a pivotal moment for me.
Here is my script: