Over the last several years I have spent quite a bit of time “speaking” with audiences around the world, many of them increasingly larger in size. In this way, preparing to give my TEDx talk hasn’t been something completely foreign. A decent portion of the speaking I do is in the form of workshops. These often last for multiple days and involve me facilitating a learning-process for clinicians. It’s not uncommon for me to speak for eight hours a day. More recently I have been tasked with giving keynote talks. These tend to be 60-75 minutes in length.
If I can speak with a group of people for eight hours a day for five days in succession, what’s one 10 to 15-minute talk, right? As it turns out, trying to distill a topic so robust that I could write a book on it into 15 minutes or less is a considerable challenge.
I often find that I can best express myself in writing. I think this is largely due to the fact that I can type 150+ words a minute. It’s the only medium that has a chance to keep up with my racing thoughts. I initially resisted the impulse to write out my talk and instead just practiced it extemporaneously. However, inspiration struck as I was riding the Chunnel from London to Paris, and I poured it all out onto my computer screen. This proved to be very helpful as I’ve noticed my talk becoming more precise in subsequent repetitions.
A key question I’ve arrived at is: what work do I want these words to do? This is especially important because I have so few with which to work. I feel like I’m valuing each word more than ever before. It’s a beautiful agony that a part of me wishes could last forever.