I was sat on my sun lounger in the baking sun of Olu Deniz when my phone blipped suddenly. I’d got an email from Yousif, the organiser of Sheffield’s 1st ever TEDx event. He confirmed that he would indeed like me to speak at his ‘live streamed’ event at Sheffield Hallam University. With fake confidence, I emailed back writing ‘thank you and yes, I would indeed be available to speak on 5th December 2015’. I pressed ‘send’ and then drank my earliest ever Vodka & coke whilst screaming ‘yes, yes, yes’ (in a rather Meg Ryan sort of way!) Although I have to admit, my ‘yesses’ were preceded by a few other four letter words!
So forget ‘the holiday read’, because from that moment in July 2015, I then spent my ‘lounging time’ putting my TEDx speech structure together. In my no-time-like-the-present-typical-Kate-way, I became immersed in trying to write the best ever speech on communication technology.
I figured that TED was the ultimate honour for any ambitious speaker, so I knew this would require considerable effort and time on my part to pull off a short/funny/completely-natural-&-unscripted-sounding-speech that would give Winston Churchill, (the infamous impassioned, inspiring and articulate orator, who also happened to be my hero) a run for his money! 😉
I knew I needed a start, middle, end, with humour and tears in equal measure in my speech. I also needed a mind-blowing speech about communication technology that was going to be informative, informal, powerful and engaging. I also needed my slides to click on and change when I wanted them and my videos to play on cue! So not much to ask.
During the next month I wrote, re-wrote and meticulously scrawled sentences on Post-It notes all over my kitchen. But it was only 8 minutes if I read the Post-It’s verbatim to my long suffering cocker-poo Lottie. My TEDx currently lacked emotion, as I focussed on raising awareness about technology advances to improve the communication of locked in syndrome patients, like I once was.
Day after day, I would toss my script into the bin as I refined and tried to improve the impact and flow of my speech. Ultimately, I personally wanted to be a full-on TED speaker with even bigger reach globally for such disadvantaged people and not just a TEDx speaker!! (You just can’t dampen the ambition inside of me!)
Then from the end of September I finally cracked my script!
Lottie braced herself for weeks of boring dog walks as I spent dog walk after dog walk, learning and recording the four sections my script onto my ‘Voice Memos’ function on my IPhone. The four sections then became three sections, which then became two sections of 7 minutes of speech, until by the middle of October I had learnt my whole 14 minute script with no prompts.
Then I had to work on my delivery & slide clicks/videos but also the tone, the pitch, the speed, the length and those bloody Magnus-Pike-chuffing-arms! I also had to deliver the script so it didn’t sound rehearsed or scripted which was a tough ask. But worse of all, I completely failed to realise that I had to deliver my speech on the infamous piece of round, red TEDx carpet! (I had been used to freely walking around and talking until that point.)
We had a full dress rehearsal the week before the 5th December to the event volunteers. I was first up and set off a tad fast, with my arms flapping like a deranged woman. Worse still, I was swaying with my feet planted to the spot, like they’d been Super Glued to the floor. I wasn’t used to having to keep within the tight confines of my small, red circle. However, I only forgot one sentence and the volunteers cried so I figured my speech was hitting the right buttons.
The following Saturday came around really quickly and my nerves( and the pressure I had put on myself) was intense.
I was up in the afternoon, next to last apparently. However, Craig suddenly introduced me out of sink so I had to scuttle to the stage and pic up my Mic on route. Shit. Then he announced the wrong title of my speech. Double shit. I didn’t anticipate that.
As the audience welcomed me, I struggled (actually slightly panicked) to remember my first sentence, but then I remembered the words, ‘Imagine if you could voice what you are really thinking?…’ I was off.
The audience was so quiet. My clicks on the slides worked seamlessly and on cue to script… phew. I was flying and it felt great, you couldn’t shut me up. I was actually enjoying the experience!
I was very proud delivering my speech with some would say my long suffering husband Mark and my oldest friend from Sheffield watching.
I was a bit worried I was going to overrun but my worries were actually ungrounded, although I missed the magic 14 minutes. I had delivered the speech I had prepared and meticulously practised to the letter. I was happy I couldn’t have done anymore. The crowd seemed happy and emotional, so job done.
I felt I’d shone a light on why enabling unconscious patients to communicate was such a basic human right and how new communication technology advances were extremely exciting and important. I hoped to deliver a speech that was engaging, relevant and interesting within 20 minutes (actually 15 1/2 minutes) and I hope you think all my obsessive preparations paid off? The Prosecco tasted bloody good I can tell you! 😉
Hope you enjoy my TEDx Voicing Inner Thoughts Matters by Kate Allatt
It was a complement & just for the record
‘No, I absolutely did NOT use an autocue!’