Life after Ted

Opinion by Ken Powell


Ken talking with inspiration and ease to an eager audience -Photo by Robert Haile

UNLESS you follow my blogs, tweets and perhaps know me well enough to see my Facebook posts too, you probably can’t imagine how terrifying the last few weeks have been for me as I prepared for giving my talk at TEDx Whitehaven on Wednesday September 7.

What was odd about this was that I’m very used to public speaking. So why the nerves with TEDx?

Firstly, there was the timing issue. TEDx talks are meant to be around the 15-minute mark, though the back catalogue of talks ranges from as short as 5 minutes to as long as 25, I believe.

I know my propensity for verbosity (or, if you like, I talk a lot!), so I did my best to keep it down to 16 minutes. It was, quite honestly, impossible. Even after stripping it down to the bare minimum I was finding myself hitting 20 minutes.

Eventually I managed 16 ½ minutes on one run-through, but I never saw that time again I’m sorry to say.

Secondly, there was the tradition of TEDx talks speaking more or less without notes and all from memory (or fancy auto cues). No way I could manage that.

I have a memory like a sieve. I had to work from notes, even if just in case I got lost.

And lastly, there was the fact that TEDx talks are recorded and go onto the internet and generally speaking are watched many thousands of times – tens or hundreds of thousands if they prove ‘virally popular’.

All it would need is for me to trip over a step and go sprawling or stumble over my words and accidentally say something rude and that would be saved for the whole world to see.

I can cope with making a fool of myself but my talk was much about how wonderful Bangladesh people are and the last thing I wanted was to let them down.

Well I’m glad to say it went really well and nothing untoward happened during my presentation.

A fair amount of the ease I felt on the day was definitely due to the amazing, professional and simply just lovely team at TEDx, Whitehaven, who looked after all seven of the speakers.

I don’t think I’ve worked with such a gentle, understanding and accommodating crew before in the past. I hope they get to put it on next year, as they did last year, but if they do, any speakers the team invite to speak will be very lucky indeed. They made it all feel easy. Believe me, it wasn’t.