TED.com releases talk on Walkntalks

The “Sitting is the Smoking our Generation” TEDtalk airs today on TED.com!

I can hardly believe it.

People always wonder if speakers are nervous. The question is, with enough practice, does this level of professional speaking ever get easy? I myself have had that question, wondering if I was “the only one” who got super nervous for big venues. As I got ready for TED starting, I looked around at my fellow colleagues who were going to speak in the same session. There in one corner was the rockstar, Bono, a former governor, 2 superb economists who teach at top schools (and therefore audiences all the time), and so on. Some were still rehearsing hand gestures in their seat before going on, others were pacing like crazy, one looked like she was going to throw up. Even Bono’s full-surround entourage couldn’t hide the fact that even he was breathing a little uneven. "god shot" view of Nilofer Merchant speaking at TED2013

About two hours before heading into the hall, I was a mess. I hadn’t had enough coffee. My hair was still wet because I didn’t have time to dry it. I was running late to the green room. As I was scurrying around, one errand I had to do was meet a fellow conference attendee, so I could borrow her earrings.

As I was taking off mine to swap, I could barely do the simple task. I wondered what was going on, and then I looked down at my hands. I was shaking violently. “I never do that”, I thought. Well, apparently, I never do that unless I’m facing the red-dot of TED, 6 cameras, 2,000 people live (and countless others watching elsewhere) in this epic arena.

But you know what I’ve learned? Nervousness says you care.

I had no desire, let alone ability to be anything other than my authentic self. I cared.  I wanted the idea to be so clearly delivered, so the idea could spread. What I wanted that day was to show up, fully alive, and be heard.

Well, you can see for yourself how that went.

(I’ll share more what turned the nervousness to calm, in a future post. My hands are shaking a bit, even now as I share the news.)

6 Replies

  1. Great topic and perhaps your best delivered talk.

    Fascinated by the behind the scenes story in this post. Not a shred of nervousness you describe is apparent in the talk and so eagerly look forward to that future post on what turned the nervousness to calm.

    On a lighter note: In your state of nervousness did you fleetingly consider running away from the venue ? In a high pressure situation like that…..I probably would have 🙂

  2. I’ll share the story of “running away”, too… just cause you asked. Might take me a few days as my inbox is slightly inundated right now. 😉

  3. Great post, terrific TED talk (no sign of nerves) and fabulous idea-walk and talk! Works on so many levels. Personally I can feel my brain engage and start to process better when I am moving about or walking. Thanks for sharing.

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