This being my first TEDx talk, I had no concrete expectations from the preparation process. I find the structure imposed by the organizers valuable and helpful. It is helping me in composing a coherent story, clarifying the idea, filling in gaps, smoothing over conceptual jolts, and evening out the tempo of the narrative. This encourages further research: sheds light on unclear sections, focuses mental effort on tenuous connections, and stimulates the asking of unasked questions.
On the other hand, as the goal for the idea being presented is under development and largely aspirational, I am worried that the talk might be a case of “saying hop before jumping”. The natural antagonism of open-ended research and a product-oriented goal creates a fundamental tradeoff of both the content and the target audience of the talk. The dual goals of simplifying the narrative for a general audience and including advanced detail for the YouTube audience are mutually contradictory, so I am striving for the simplest and most elegant explanation of a very complex idea.
The R&D work and presentation training feel like very different activities. This recalls the dichotomy of, on one hand, learning some material for myself and, on the other, generating a narrative that is understandable to my students. I am naturally more inclined to the R&D work and learning for myself than to the presentation. The latter makes me anxious and that anxiety tends to attach itself to the former, threatening to create a vicious cycle. Such vicious cycles are not unfamiliar, in both my academic and professional career, but I have developed strategies to deal with them, which keep me steady on my course, even if I veer aside from time to time. The process goes on.