How I Survive TEDxKL 2015


I have been an avid follower and fan of TED talks videos since I was introduce to one of the videos by a friend, and the first video I watched was by Jill Bolte Taylor. And then one videos one after another based on titles and subject matter I was falling into the endless rabbit hole of TED talk videos.

So when I was invited by Daniel the organizer of TEDxKL to be a speaker it was an honor, so I accepted the invite to be part of the 12 speakers. Unknown to me TEDxKL followers have grown tremendously over the few years with 2000 attendees on their 2014 edition. And the first surprise is when they told me that this year they're holding it in Stadium Putra in Bukit Jalil and expecting 3000 or more people to attend only then I began to realize what I have got myself into.


It's like concert but I won't be singing and I have to give an uninterrupted 15 minutes talk on stage. So then I began to write the content of my talk, and had to watch as much TED talk videos I have seen and new ones just to really pick up a few things on how other speakers do it.


Even though I have been on forums, panels, conducted workshops and teaches but that doesn't mean I can talk for 15 minutes to share an idea and to inspire to such a large crowd. There'll be no moderators and there'll be no question and answer. Basically it's like performing a monologue or stand up comedy. So I gather as much info from the other TED talks and presentation videos I could get and use.


The next surprise was a week before the day itself, I met up with Daniel again as he wants to follow up on how my preparation is progressing, he inform me that I'll be the first speaker. I was totally dumbfounded and he proceed to show me photos on his phone of the stadium being set up. I could have tell him not put me in the first spot, but something in me told me not to, just fucking take it as a challenge. That's the type of challenge I sometimes want to take but not bungee jumping or sky diving.


With four more days to go it was very stressful for me cause I was still trying to finalize the contents of my talk and also the subject matter, as always we just put too much thing into our creation. So back to the inspiring quote I've always kept when writing or creating;


A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. Antoine de Saint-Exupery


That's why it's better to fill in with as much stuff as possible in the early drafts then we start trimming out the fats. The early draft of my talk including 2 video clips was about 25 minutes. Way too long as each speaker are given only 15 minutes.


So when I went to the rehearsal and tech run a day before the talk, my talk was about 20 minutes and I know I have try it out once on stage then only can I really nail down what are all the excess which I don't need. As I was brought to the stage looking at the empty seats which could fill in 4000 in total I was freaked out internally. The rehearsal was delayed a bit, so as I sit and wait it was those fear and nervousness starts to creep up, the "what ifs" situations.


And by the time they set up my mic as I walks up on to the stage, it was astounding, I force my voice to come out and boy, anyone there would know I was nervous. As I begin to run through my lines it just gets worse. And when I finished I wanted another go and another go as long as time permits and before the next speaker comes for their rehearsal.


Yes, I just utilize the stage and even later in the evening when the stage was available I used it again but these time round without the mic. I did an internal run on stage, then I did one with normal talking style as if how I would talk in a workshop or when I teach.

Before I went home I requested from the stage manager if I could come in tomorrow early morning just to have one final rehearsal on stage before the show begins. That night I managed to finally narrowed down the talk within 15 minutes, and practice it to the death.


In total I have ran the talk on my own total of 20 times, including before I've got the final version of my talk. Running it in front of mirror and my webcam. But in my mind I know it's gonna be different when the crowd is there.


No matter how many times I have practiced the nervousness and fear will not go away, until the a volunteer Danny Siah who was my assistant in the TEDxKL told me one thing trying to help calm me down. He said; "Well as the first speaker, the advantages is the crowd are still fresh and enthusiastic."


And it was one of the best thing I've heard to calm me down and change my perspective instead of worrying how I'll flip or flop during the talk, I took the fear as an advantage. He's so right. I kept that in my mind even as I walk to the backstage to set up the mic. I was still nervous and taking deep breaths.


After the host announces my name, I calmly walks up the stage and the rest is history. I felt like it was forever, the feeling when someone is inside a boxing ring fighting and an audience watching from outside the ring. I felt like I should have not done one or two things which looks either like mistakes or trying to hard. Till the video is out I wouldn't know how my talk was.


As my talk finishes, I walks down back to the audiences seat and told myself now I can really enjoy TEDxKL for the rest of the event.

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