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November 25, 2013

My TEDx Talk Experience

November 25, 2013

Jeb Banner giving a talk at TEDxIndianapolis

I recently had the opportunity to deliver a talk at TEDx here in Indy. The theme was "Mix It Up" so I chose to talk about the connection between music, bands and business. If you would like to see the talk I've embedded the video below.

Here's a quick summary: writing music leads to being in bands which helps build skills and talents, including teamwork and creativity, that have a high value in the modern workplace although most employers, and would-be employees, neglect to consider that experience as relevant. It ends with me asking the question: "What if employees were as passionate about their work as bands are about their music?"

But I'd like to use this blog to tell you about my experience of putting together a TED talk. It was horrible. Well not really, but there was a really rough night about a week before the event where I seriously doubted my ability to pull it off.

I give presentations pretty often, but not 10 minute presentations. Especially not 10 minute presentations that must also "mix it up" while conveying a "big idea." Added to this was the pressure of having to send the slides over a week in advance despite my normal process of tweaking things until the moment I walk on stage. So I really struggled with having it ready a week in advance. In fact, I flat out failed and sent them over 5 days in advance and the TEDx folks were very accommodating.

When you get selected to give a TED talk you are also assigned a coach. At first I was a little surprised, but then I realized it made a ton of sense. There is a temptation to try to say a million things in that small amount of time and my coach, Beth Perdue Outland, did a great job of pushing me to dig deeper and crystalize my "big idea." I really appreciated the way she pushed me – I know it improved the outcome.

Another interesting/different thing is the dress rehearsal. Walking out onto that big stage with almost no-one in the audience was way more nerve-wracking for me than the actual talk. There was no energy to feed off of. It felt really weird and I left feeling less confident than when I went in.

To regain my mojo I headed to Calvin Fletcher's coffee shop and re-wrote my presentation one more time – with the constraint of using the same slides. In the end, I went through 7 different iterations of the talk. If I had had the opportunity to turn in my presentation right before I gave it I'm sure that number would have been much greater and I think I could have greatly improved and refined the talk.

Overall I was happy with how the talk went – I'd give it a B. I mangled a couple parts and would love the opportunity to do it over but what's done is done, no going back. Here it is, what do you think? What would you talk about if you were to give a TED talk?

Images courtesy of Jeremy Houchens.

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