When in January the Lugano’s TEDx team asked me to be a speaker for their second event hosted at the Franklin University I started to get nervous. Although honoured and pleased by this invitation, I was really concerned about the contents and how those could have a real impact on the audience.
I’m quite used to talk in public, so the main problem was to build a story which had the potential to: 1. engage the audience and 2. to come up with something worth spreading.
I’m not a celebrity, so I could not build a story about personal success, nor about lifetime achievements. Instead, what I did, was to focus on the possible paths that an “almost normal” individual can follow to reach his goals. “Almost normal”, because as an entrepreneur I do not consider myself someone who conducts a life with established routines.
So I thought about my story and what topic could be engaging and inspiring, not only for myself, but also for others. I always considered myself a lifehacker: not in its usual definition, as someone being able to solve everyday problems in an ingenious way, but someone who wants to do something more than just live a life and get along with it.
I built the speech around this concept. It was quite challenging because I’m not a native English speaker (although I have bilingual-proficiency grades) and certain expressions had to be reviewed and corrected by Christina Lang, the speaker’s curator (who did an amazing job). It was not the language, nor the grammar: it was the built of the speech itself that was constantly questioned and sent back for reconsideration. It took me 6 versions to finally get a definitive approval… Task intensive labour, isn’t it?
The event was on April 18th. Apparently 3 months seem a lot of time to come up with a good speech. It’s quite the opposite: 3 months are nothing! The long evaluation process about the ideas, about the content, about the way you speak and expose your ideas just takes an enormous amount of time and effort. TEDx is a staged event. There’s no room for improvisation because of the strict rules organisers have to stick to. And as with any staged event, preparation is the key of the success: hours of practice are a pre-requisite to have a chance to jump on stage the day the event takes place.
Being invited to be a speaker at a TEDx means putting on hold any work for at least 2 weeks and just focus on your speech and your presentation. The people attending a TED talk have a higher bar of expectations than those who attend any other event. They come, sit and listen to what you have to tell them… If it’s not brilliant, useful, meaningful, impactful and worth sharing you have just failed. And being invited as a speaker at a TEDx event does not happen very often, so failing — at least for me — was not an option.
The day the event takes place for a speaker means sweat and anxiety. I was nervous and terrified to forget my speech (which happened the day before during the rehearsal…) and to mess it up. As I told you, I’m used to speak in public, but the sole fact that I was at a TEDx made me feel like I never walked on stage in my life before. And the fear of failure keeps until your name is pronounced by the hosts… Then it’s your turn and you are in front of hundreds (and maybe thousands because of video recordings) people eager to hear your story and your ideas, hopefully worth spreading.
Images: © TEDxLugano (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tedxlugano/)