Speaking at my first TEDx

Today I was fortunate enough to tick off two big ones; 1) Speaking at the Opera House 2) Speaking at TEDx. I'm still holding out for a TED Talk one day... possibly on the moon. This all sort of happened so fast that I still can't quite get a grasp on it.

I'd accidentally entered myself into a competition without realising that I had.

That's the start of it. TEDxSydney do an amazing, massive event each year at the Sydney Opera House. It's a pretty fancy deal with lots of incredible speakers and a hand-picked audience counterpart. Do they let any old riff-raff like me in? Well, maybe, but not exactly. I technically wasn't invited. I just answered someone else's email and landed myself a small speaking spot in the process.


It's a segment called Fast Ideas where 8 or so people present one idea of theirs in 30 seconds to the whole audience. Invitations to apply to be in Fast Ideas had been sent out but I didn't receive one. A friend of mine asked if I'd seen it and I hadn't which surprised me because I was on the TEDx mailing list. No matter. She forwarded it on, I clicked the link, then applied by writing my idea about safely exposing personal vulnerability in order to achieve mental health stigma reduction.

And they liked it! Good news. So I go to a meeting with the other seven speakers one week before the show is on. It was then that I realised this is a competition; not just a showcase. I usually feel like I've missed something by the end of meetings. I'm not sure if that's an accurate assessment of the facts but that's my standard position and it was the one I took this day too. I just had this feeling that everyone else was a few mental steps ahead of me. As we left I asked if we were allowed to stick around for the rest of the day and watch all the other speakers. I was told that I could do whatever I wanted because as an audience member I had a pass to see everything.


You know those moments when everyone is just sort of staring at you after you've said something as if they're confused and are waiting for you to say something less stupid? I certainly do. In this case the confusion was all around and I instantly felt like I might not quite belong. Everyone else had audience passes. Why not I? Had they just not issued my one yet? Nope. Turns out that this competition is only open to people who are already audience members which explains why I didn't receive the invitation email. Someone asked "so.. how did you get in here?". I felt like a second-rate  undercover spy who's cover had just been blown. My super suave response was "uuuuhhh.. I'm not entirely sure now". Smooth. We pieced it together; my friend was an audience member, she forwarded the "for your eyes only" email to me and I clicked a link and off I went. TEDx meanwhile just assumed that I was an audience member because they only sent these invites out to them specifically.

Bit awks. Totally my fault. But they were excellent sports about my vacant confusion and let me buy a ticket in the end. So I'm in.

Here's my bit (Scroll across the speakers and click on Fast Ideas. Soz. Not on YouTube yet so can't embed):

I learnt SO much that day. Not just from the experience itself, but by meeting and chatting with heaps of interesting and insightful people and of course listening to some incredible talks. I have a few favourites but this one in particular is what I want to share with you all:

Ok, TEDxSydney. Let's get it sorted next time. Please invite me next year because I don't know any other ways to break in... yet.