Perhaps my expectations were too low, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how useful the preparation process has been. The first training session was a fast-paced hour packed with suggestions and guidance I needed to focus my idea. It helped me with what has been the most challenging part of preparation, answering “how do I do this and how do I get started?”

Prior to that hour I was swimming a bit on how to present my idea in only a few minutes, make it useful to a general audience, convey my enthusiasm, and inspire action. The TEDxMSUDenver organizers knew exactly what they were doing to get me started on this journey. Their confidence made me feel relaxed and ready to focus. I left my first training session with less confusion, replaced with a list of concrete steps to follow.

Armed with the template my trainers provided, the worry I felt while preparing was replaced by enthusiasm and focused anticipation. I was surprised how eliminating extraneous distractions that are not part of my main idea made preparation much easier and less stressful.

In my job and volunteer work I have many opportunities for extemporaneous speaking and wish I had previously been exposed to the 10%, 80%, 10% approach to preparation included in session one. In retrospect this organizational tool seems so obviously helpful by subdividing my talk into three manageable pieces with a definite focus in each one.

  • Beginning 10%, Elevate my audience. Make a human connection. Tell a story about yourself that in one minute establishes you as a relatable story teller and not a lecturer.
  • Middle 80%, Empowerment. Share your idea with your audience by engaging their imagination. Something like — “You may not totally comprehend this idea at this moment and that’s fine. My purpose is to activate your imagination, not your analytical skills.”
  • Summary 10%, Engagement. How can my audience participate in my idea? I want everyone who sees or hears my talk to imagine what this means for our collective future as a species.

I’m excited that this is actually going to happen and that I have help from experienced trainers to help with what for me is the hardest part – organization.