From Toastmaster to TEDx Speaker
Anthony Garvey is a proud member of Shilling Speakers in Area A1. He recently gave a TEDx talk and now shares his experience with all of us.
Sweaty palms, knocking knees and butterflies in your stomach – do you remember tackling them before delivering your first icebreaker? Perhaps you lay awake the night before, rehearsing the speech in your mind, worrying you would freeze, develop acute facial tics or lose your voice entirely!
These disasters never happened, did they? And while your icebreaker speech may not have been perfect, Toastmasters has helped all of us over the years to practise and refine, improve and develop our oratorical abilities, allowing us to take our skills out into the world and present with poise and confidence.
One way to test your speaking skills is by delivering a TEDx Talk. Like Toastmasters, TED is a non-profit organisation which started in California 30 years ago. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson and Philippe Starck, to name but a few. TEDx (the ‘x’ means it’s an independently organised TED event anywhere in the world) brings speakers of all levels together in different towns and cities, to spark deep discussion and connection.
To become a TEDx speaker…
To become a TEDx speaker you first need the bones of a good idea. Mine was ‘how to present naked’ – without slides and notes, not without clothes – but I figured because I had sold ice cream on a nudist beach in my teens, I could weave this story into my Talk.
Next you need to choose an event to speak at and there is no shortage of opportunities. To date, more than 13,000 TEDx events have been held in 150 countries. Once you have found one, get in touch and follow their application process.
In my case for TEDx Tralee, once I had submitted my idea, I was asked to deliver a two-minute video presentation, fleshing it out a little and then we were shortlisted further, in two rounds of interviews.
Make it through and you will face a familiar journey for any Toastmaster who has entered a speech contest – writing, editing, redrafting and reworking – with the brilliant organisers of the event helping you every step of the way.
One key difference is your TEDx Talk is eighteen, not seven minutes long, but there are no issues with finding the timer, because right in front of you on stage as you speak, is a countdown clock, ticking relentlessly downwards.
If like me, you have a flair for the dramatic, and enjoy delivering the theatrical elements in a speech, you will be encouraged to tone them down a little – TEDx Talks are more conversational in style. But the skills, the contacts and the support you develop in Toastmasters helps enormously when delivering a TEDx Talk.
How did my Toastmasters club help?
I am a proud member of Shilling Speakers, in Area 1, Division A of District 91. Two months before my actual TEDx Talk, Shilling Speakers invited me to deliver an early draft and I received feedback from every member of the club which helped me improve it.
Because Shilling Speakers has four members who have delivered TEDx Talks, I was able to speak to people who had been there before, pick their brains and listen to their invaluable words of wisdom.
I was taught early on in my Toastmasters journey I should never try and learn a speech off by heart, word-for-word, like an actor learns their lines. This advice also helped, because I knew I had the ability to get back on track, if I suddenly veered off-script.
Toastmasters also helped on the night of the TEDx Talks, with pre-event nerves in a surprising way.
I have delivered a number of speeches over the years in Toastmasters, and because of this, I am delighted to report I wasn’t really nervous. But I could see some of my fellow TEDx speakers were ashen-faced, pacing the room like they were about to face the firing squad.
Because I had been a mentor in Toastmasters, I used the skills I had learned to reassure and encourage them, telling them they had practised and prepared and everything would be OK. And indeed, it was.
And the feeling afterwards when coming off stage – WOW! The release of adrenaline, the sheer joy of weeks of work completed and an amazing bond and lasting friendships between speakers who had shared the stage together.
Would I recommend you do it? Absolutely.
And because you are a member of D91 Toastmasters, you will have the full support of a brilliant District, with excellent members willing and able to help you all the way.
Go for it!
——— Anthony Garvey, Shilling Speakers
——— Anthony is an award-winning presenter and public speaker and a proud member of Shilling Speakers in Area 1 in District 91.
——— Anthony has written seven children’s books, including the popular Gravespeakers series for 8-12 year olds. Anthony has 30 years’ experience working in international public relations, ranging from technology and telecommunication blue chips to educational and local government organisations. He spent 9 years as Head of PR for Psion plc, during a period of rapid change as it evolved from a start-up to a FTSE100 company.
——— In 2001, Anthony returned to Ireland where he established Quinn Garvey PR, which provides public relations and marketing services to small businesses. Anthony also runs Confident Presenting, which provides management training to companies throughout the UK and Ireland.