TEDxEmbarcadero: The Tale Behind the Talk

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That's how I felt when Nilofer Merchant e-mailed to tell me that I would be sharing the dais with her at TEDxEmbarcadero.

The honeymoon period — my elated “I get to go to California!  To see my friend Kathleen!  To give a TEDx speech!  This is going to be SO fun!” — lasted maybe five minutes.

Not only had I not given this type of speech before, public speaking doesn't come naturally to me.  I am far more comfortable behind the bulwark of the piano, and even that isn't easy.  In giving a presentation, by definition, we must draw attention to ourselves, rather than deflect.  And frankly, I've become quite adept at deflection over the years, frequently tossing away attention like a hot potato, lest I get burned.

Knowing that there was a fine line between the fear that galvanizes and paralyzes, I found a terrific coach, and we got to work. I practiced, and practiced some more; I even ginned up the courage to rehearse in front of my friend Kathleen when the speech still felt pretty rough.

And then on March 24, I showed up.  On stage.  For 16 1/2 minutes. Hoping to encourage people to dream, not only through the written, but also the spoken word.

Frightening — yes.

Adrenaline-inducing — yes.

But I am so glad I took the dare.

I've never considered myself a thrill seeker, but maybe when we dare, we are living on the edge just a little bit.  Have you done something recently you really wanted to do, but were frightened?

P.S.  Because of my Optimist's Challenge, as I watch the speech, I am going to focus on only two things I could improve, and at least ten things that I liked. Because after all that daring, it would be folly, wouldn't it, to pour 1/2 the water out of this wonderfully full glass?

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