Last week, I had the honor and privilege of joining 15 other amazing speakers at the inaugural TEDx event in West Monroe, La. To say I was excited (and nervous) to be there would be an understatement.
I also have to say that ever since I was notified in late June 2021 about being selected as a speaker, I have never worked harder on a speech in my entire life than I did this one. Truthfully, I have given so many speeches through the years at various business meetings, conferences etc., but very few, if any, have I ever had to memorize my presentation word for word as well as being “on the clock” with a specific time limit. Talk about pressure!
I am not kidding when I say that I must have rehearsed my talk over 100 times in the three months leading up to the event. Everywhere I went, I was reciting my lines. This meant practicing during McDonald’s runs every morning, my daily workouts at the YMCA, happy hours with friends, and more. I even did a “dry run” in front of a class of business students at my old high school, which was a special moment.
Frankly, after so much practicing day after day, week after week, and month after month, both my wife (Maureen) and my dog (Walker) got tired of hearing me practice!
Once arriving in West Monroe for the big event, we were fortunate to join a speaker’s dinner to get to know each other. At this point, I certainly started to feel the significance of what was about to happen. Speakers from states all across the country – California, Texas, Colorado and North Carolina, and more – were preparing their TEDx speeches like me.
As the event organizer, Clayton Poland, pointed out, we were all part of a select group of speakers that were hand picked out of hundreds of applications that he had received in the past year. In his words, we were picked because we were “the best of the best.” Those kind words were certainly wonderful to hear and let me know that I have to deliver. I was chosen for a reason.
On the day of the event, pure nervous energy was rampant among the presenters. Many of us were reciting our lines literally wherever we could find a spot, which included our hotel room, building lobby and the venue parking lot.
No doubt, the level of intensity was downright crazy. It felt like you could cut the tension with a knife, which elevated our needs to focus.
Yet when my time came to make my TEDx debut, I made it a point to focus, take a deep breath and do the best job I could do. That’s all we can do when the time comes – give your all and do your best.
In Doing the Right Thing, Not the Easy Thing, I included stories about doing right by our community, customers, and employees. All stories from my experiences as an entrepreneur and CEO, and all stories straight from the heart!
Attendees and fellow TEDx presenters congratulated me on my talk, which gave me such a great feeling. By all accounts, I was told later it was the best version of my talk I had ever given.
As I write this blog one week later, I am still on cloud nine about the entire TEDx experience. For speakers like me, it’s the “Super Bowl.” That’s what made it so special and satisfying.
Becoming a TEDx speaker is not only a career-changing event, but a life-changing event as well!
I look forward to sharing more about the experience soon, but until then, let’s chat over a call or over coffee. I’d love to hear from you.