Be careful what you ask for. I have often said that I wanted a larger platform and I just got it. For the past four weeks, I have been preparing for a TEDx Talks, a local version of the Ted Talks radio program heard locally on WLRN and following the same format.
“Yes,” I immediately replied – and promptly forgot about the conversation. Then I received an email four weeks ago to respond to the opportunity.
What I didn’t know at the time was that my friend is on the speakers selection committee. She has remained very professional and I have not received any preferential treatment from her.
The initial invitation was for me submit an online self-nomination. I had fun during the process that included a self-produced video statement about who I am, what was on my mind and how I thought I could impact an audience with an “idea worthy of exploration,” which is the tag line for the Ted Talks franchise.
It was on! It took five attempts on my iPhone but I finally recorded a 54-second video that I was pleased with and I submitted it along with the other information required in the application. One week later, I was invited to the audition happening in another two weeks.
I was given several items to help prepare for the audition: guidelines, including the suggested time to talk (between six minutes and 18 minutes), tips, links to Ted Talks broadcasts and a detailed map to the audition room at Mountain View College.
I began to get nervous when I was asked to submit an outline of my audition, including any slides, power point, etc., that I would use.
I am a practiced public speaker and I prefer extemporaneous speaking, with a theme, so I did not have any props to submit, just my outline.
When the appointed day arrived, I dressed comfortably, to be able to stand up and make an impression. You know. I looked good. And I was ready.
The committee members were well prepared. They followed Ted Talks guidelines for keeping time, introducing the speakers and judging. There was a professional MC, a round red carpet on which to stand, chairs arranged in auditorium style, with a center aisle, and a room full of students and professors.
There were eight of us that day auditioning for the Tedx Talk and I was third up in the first set of speakers.
You know me. I tried to provoke the audience, to have them suspend their beliefs about themselves, to step out of their comfort zones and to consider that they could be without labels and beyond the confines of birthrights such as race, gender, socio-economic placement, nationality and even body, etc.
I talked a little about love – the humanitarian kind of love that Maya Angelou wrote about in On the Pulse of Morning and the romantic love that Leonard Pitts depicted in his novel, Freeman. I enjoyed myself.
Half way into the audition, I realized how important it is that people with ideas be given access to a Ted Talks-like process.
While the application process was informative, it was the actual presentations, the variety of styles, the breadth of subject matter and the varying degrees of passion displayed by the presenters that moved me the most.
There is one other round of auditions before the finalists are selected but it matters less to me if I’m selected. It has been the journey – and that was part of my talk, too – that has mattered most.
My thanks to all you readers, who have helped me get this far in expanding my platform.
Antonia Williams-Gary may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org