Yesterday was the TED talk and it was even more exciting and empowering than I had hoped it might be. Lights, camera, action!
I was put at the very end of the show, as the ‘grand finale’, so it could ‘go out with a bang’, said the organisers. Wow. I was very excited about this, despite the immense pressure. I had never given a talk on a big stage, in a theatre, with 5 cameras, lots of lighting, etc. There was a massive organising and technical team behind the whole event. I had a dressing room, make-up artist, even.
I was kind of goggle-eyed at all this. Everyone (speech coach, fellow speakers, etc.) kept telling me: ‘You will be brilliant, Lorna. You can do this. This is your story. Look at you — you are beautiful.’
I don’t even think they were making this up. I felt composed, confident and focused.
Time flew by.
A runner came to get me from the dressing room. I was taken behind the stage, where about 6 people were lurking, with microphones and headsets, speaking to each other, very importantly. I was ‘miked up’ – a microphone was curled around both my ears (ruining my hair????) and fastened onto my belt. The guy (? Which guy? There were many of them…) asked me if I was OK, and counted me down.
OK, let’s go, he said, and passed me the clicker for my slides. He told me which direction I needed to point the clicker, and gently led me towards my entrance.
Onto the stage I went.
I am not sure what happened next. I said most of the things I had planned to say. I was fortunate enough to have vivid, colourful slides, which told my story for me. I have been practising this talk for about 6 months now, gibbering away to myself in all sorts of ontic landscapes (down the street, in the bath, for example).
In honesty, as soon as I was on the stage, I swelled with pride and exactitude. I saw my dear friends Zoe and Sarah in the audience. I was so happy to see them. The audience wasn’t that big (only 100 people). The theatre wasn’t that big. At this point I was not thinking about the millions of people who are potentially going to see the video on the TED TALK YouTube channel.
I focused on what I needed to say. I was a bit worried that it wasn’t very funny, it was very serious. Anyway, I think I managed to make the audience laugh once? Phew.
The audience seemed, somehow, enthralled, by my story.
Then I roused everyone with a creative experiment. Everyone started clapping, doing Mexican waves, and dancing. Exactly as I had hoped.
Then it was over. My piece finished earlier than I had expected. It went so quickly. I hope I wasn’t speaking too fast. I am sure I forgot some things. Anyway, did my last slide: ‘with curiosity, compassion and creativity, you will access your own revival’, and still had about 3 or 4 minutes left. They were timing down from 18 minutes – we had a timer we could see on a screen. My piece came to a total of about 14 minutes, I think. Anyway, better for the YouTube video if it is not too long. More people will watch.
I walked off the stage to the sound of a clapping torrent – cheers and praise. I felt happy and fulfilled. I did it. So many people came up to me, beaming, and gave me a hug.
‘You were brilliant, as I knew you would be.’
‘Thank you so much, Lorna. I resonated with your powerful story. It is amazing that you have recovered and done so well. Thank you for sharing this with us.’
‘Lorna, you are so beautiful and so powerful. Look what you just did!’
‘I am going to use your suggestions in my work, with school kids. Thank you so much, this is really helpful for me and for my work.’
I was elated. Somehow, I had managed to pull it off.
This will be going on the TEDx Talk YouTube channel in about 2 months’ time (after editing), potentially reaching millions. Boom.
One of the best things about the TED Talk experience was the sense of comradery, rather than competition, between all the speakers and the organising team. At no point did I feel as though I was competing with anyone, or fighting for my place. I was accepted, valued, cherished, supported, nurtured, celebrated. I was helped to be the best that I possibly can be.
This was a privilege, an honour. It was extraordinary, wonderful to be allowed, and able, to be ‘me’. To know that I am sufficient, I am, in their words ‘brilliant’, just by being true to my self.
After the event finished, I quickly saw my dear friends who had come to watch. Zoe is my oldest friend – she knows more of me than I do, since we were friends at school (I don’t remember this part of my life). There was a long hiatus, because I was so unwell and ‘put away’. Then, I found Zoe again, by chance, years later. We were still friends, as if there had been no cessation.
Zoe came to watch me last night. She said it was hard to hear my story, since she witnessed so much of it, whilst it was happening. But she said it was amazing to see me up there ‘in the limelight’, at last.
I am hoping that the amazing experience of TEDxCoventry, and the impact of my talk, will support me to fulfil my vision, which is to use the arts and creativity to transform and open care for people who have eating disorders. I am developing a considered proposal to become a research fellow, building a creative, evidence-based practice in healthcare, backed up by the arts, science and philosophy (“The Butterfly Effect: Art, Creativity and Eating Disorders”).
In the meantime, I want to continue the creative experiment that I initiated during my talk @TEDxCoventry. We are all artists, can all benefit from creativity. Let’s keep this going, #becreative and #revive ourselves and our lives. Let there be a legacy from @TEDxCoventry.
See the picture I showed in my talk, and be inspired to #becreative #revive.
Try your own creative experiment. Share amongst your friends. Let’s see what we can do. With curiosity, compassion and creativity, we will access our own revivals.
Let me know how you get on, by sending a message (see ‘contact’ on the left hand side of this webpage), or on Twitter @sensinglorna.