What I Learned From My TEDx Talk Experience

My TEDX Talk 'Disconnect to Connect: The Path to Work-Life Harmony' & What I Learned in the Process

My @tedxcinnati video of my talk: Disconnect to Connect (below) was just released this past weekend on YouTube. This experience was truly life changing for me personally and as a speaker. I thought it may be helpful to share some of what I learned during this year while going through this process of creating a TED Talk, auditioning to make it to the main stage and then performing it.


Since I can remember, I have found great pleasure being a speaker, facilitator and teacher. As soon as I could work, as far back as the age of 15, I chose being a swim instructor as one of my first jobs in high school and caught the bug, which then led to anything from being a college teaching assistant, adjunct professor, a trainer for technology companies, a yoga instructor and speaking at national conferences throughout the country. Speaking for me has never been work. I find myself so fortunate to be able to do what I do. The delight I feel by seeing the lights turn on behind people's eyes as you teach something that provides another perspective or furthers their learning is priceless.

This year I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone. To try a type of speaking I have never done before, and that was a TED talk. As a speaker, I have always found that my job is to expose personal tips and tricks for others so they don't have to go through the trials I did to learn them. But, those have always been about business. Never anything in my personal life. Our journeys in our career are not just challenging because of the technical expertise we need to gain to stay ahead, but also because of the personal challenges we have to overcome to achieve what we set out to do. And, its never over, there are always new challenges ahead that we have to be up for and ready to take on.

For my TED Talk I decided to not only challenge myself with the length of time to get my message across, but also the subject matter. Something that would completely take me out of my comfort zone. Here were a few things I learned along the way in preparing for it:

1 - Create a message that matters to someone else 

One thing I have learned over time with speaking, is that it is never about me being on stage, its about what the audience is going to gain from the message in their own lives. Something may be very interesting to me, but for someone else, they may not care. Coming up with a message, whether it be a personal story or a scientific discovery, needs to resonate with the people that take time out of their day to attend, so they feel their time spent with you was worth it.

2 - Develop a script that feels natural

Typically when I speak I do not go off many notes. I use the slides as my guide of what I am going to say, but also allow my stories that I share to run freely. Being scripted is hard for me. On top of being scripted, it needs to feel just as natural as when there is no script. Creating a script that can get a point across in 8 minutes or less, when usually my talks are 50 min or more, was a hurdle to overcome. I threw out many outlines and scripts before I felt I could get it right. Preparing to dedicate the right amount of time to create the right script is critical in ensuring you structure it properly. This was a really good reminder to incorporate this practice back into my everyday speaking as well.

3 - Practice, practice, practice 

In order to make it feel natural, I had to practice this script over and over and over. When I was driving in the car, doing my make-up in the morning and even with my family at home. My 12 year old son gave me some of the best coaching tips when hearing my talk. It was a true test that anyone would be able to understand the message I was trying to get across, even a child. Anything he didn't understand he would question me, which ended up being good adjustments to incorporate so the message/story would be clear to anyone in the audience.

As adults, I think its harder than when we were children to take ourselves out of our comfort zones. This TEDx experience definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but it was worth it. The self doubt creeped in constantly. But, it's important we push past that, wherever we are in our careers, so we never stay stagnant. Being a beginner, taking ourselves on new learning journeys, whether its something like this or completely unrelated, is important so we are constantly learning, changing and challenging ourselves to improve, even when we feel we may not be the best at something or have the opportunity to fail. That is when we learn the most and have the biggest chance of expanding ourselves and our horizons.

I hope you enjoy this talk and its message resonates with you - if it does, I would love to hear how it applies to your life and if you have experienced anything similar in your own journey. #businessbalancebliss