The TED talk that I wrote about in the previous post did in fact take place in Delft on Thursday March 22. As I write this, it is the day after, and I thought it a good idea to offer some of my thoughts and feelings about the experience.
First of all, I must say that I was quite impressed by the organizers, many of whom were volunteers. They not only handled the logistics with Dutch precision, they also took care that speakers and coaches had the quiet space we needed for last minute preparation or relaxation. Food and drink were also plentiful in our waiting rooms. Keeping the speakers separate from the crowd and the venue was indeed an excellent idea too.
The stage crew and other staff were extremely friendly and helpful and we had some good fun joking back stage with each other. This was a good thing. Since I was the last speaker it made the time I had to wait go a lot faster.
Personally, I found this type of speech—about 20 minutes with no notes or words on slides—somewhat difficult to execute. I had never experienced this type of public speaking before, so it was an unusual and certainly new format for me.
I knew my speech well enough, though not by heart. As I have never been a big fan of memorization (nor am I much good at it), I focused on the general line, the flow of concepts, and some of the key words. What I found difficult in the execution was this: Speaking for roughly 20 minutes without any notes or slides means that one has to be simultaneously in the moment and thinking ahead about what comes next in the flow. At least, that is how it felt for me, and it was a phenomenon I had never experienced before.
I had a lot of good help preparing this speech in the last weeks. So I would like to thank Esther and Birgit for their patience, persistence and good ideas. Kudos also to Jonathan, my designated TED coach, whose advice and timely humor were much appreciated.
Another of my impressions was that the audience was exceptional. You could feel that they were warm and encouraging, ready to receive and absorb new concepts. This I consider a gift for the speaker.
An aspect of the event that I had not anticipated was the international character of the attendees. In the first half hour of the drinks gathering, I spoke to individuals from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Germany, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Finland, and even one from Massachusetts.
Overall, I am pleased to have participated in this well-organized and truly impressive undertaking. My TED adventure was an interesting learning experience, and a lot of fun.
Image: Verkijk Photography