Just like my pre-Talk blog post about my journey with my TEDx Talk, I will now try to answer some of the more specific questions about what it was actually like to deliver the Talk in a FAQ format.
Were you nervous?
I was #11 in a lineup of 13 speakers for the day, which started around 10:00AM and ended close to 5:00PM. This meant I didn’t deliver my talk until around 4:20PM. I thought I would be extremely on edge from the moment I woke up until I was on stage, but I actually slept decently the night before, and only felt low-grade butterflies through the majority of the day. When I arrived at the venue around 8:30AM, it was a completely different experience to see the audience arriving, the venue decked out with décor, and the interactive space inviting everyone to enter into the theme for the day, “RISE.” The energy from the crowd and environment shifted my own internal energy from pure nerves to more of a deep excitement and passion to finally deliver the words I’d been working so hard to find and express in just the right way.
After I got makeup done around 3:00PM, however, I couldn’t stay in the “green room” with the other speakers for long to chat or watch other speakers on the screen. At that point, I needed quiet focus, which meant I mostly spent that last hour just pacing the hallway and muttering my Talk a few final times.
How was it when you got on stage?
I took a few moments to close my eyes and center myself before walking onto stage. I felt decently relaxed as I started talking, and it was amazing to finally be talking to a crowd of engaged listeners, rather than the walls of my bedroom or a theater of empty chairs. About two minutes into my Talk, however, I hit a built-in pause, and then the dreaded happened – my mind went completely blank. I felt my lips move in awkward silence but my mind was literally empty. It felt like an eternity, but hallelujah, thanks to the endless hours of practicing the Talk over and over, the words returned just before I ran off the stage screaming, and I was able to go on.
That was enough to throw me, though, just enough so that I felt like I moved in and out from a strange out-of-body experience for the rest of the Talk. I remember feeling really connected at certain points, and really out of body at other points. Overall it was just incredibly surreal. All of that said, I felt it was going really well and I felt especially thankful for my dear friends and coworkers scattered throughout the audience, whom I could always redirect my eyes to when I needed to ground myself again.
How did you feel afterwards?
I felt as though the entire world was lifted off my shoulders! Going for three straight months on nervous, stressed energy was a lot. It felt so great to finally have the Talk done, and to feel that it went well overall.
I felt, and still feel, a profound sense of gratitude – and calling – given that of all the medical professionals who applied to speak for this particular TEDx community this year, I was not only the only female, but also the only nurse. This is incredibly telltale to me, that nurses remain so underrepresented even amongst the applicants. It is also amazing that I have dreamt so long to both grow and be a voice for nurses, and now I had this opportunity as the sole nurse applicant. What is more, of all 13 speakers, 12 were discovered or invited (though they still had to go through the application and review process), so the one spot remaining for “outside” applicants went to me. This is incredibly humbling, and truly testifies to me that this opportunity was an absolute gift from God.
Curiously, one remaining feeling I have had since the day of the Talk is a good amount of regret that I did not stay out on that red spot for a longer period of time after I finished, to more fully receive the applause that the audience was giving. This is not about vanity. It is about receiving an expression of openness, response, acknowledgement, engagement, and thanksgiving from this crowd who generously opened their hearts and ears to listen to a challenging talk about a heavy topic. Their applause was a gift, an acknowledgement of my words, my message on behalf of all my beloved nurse colleagues, and I deeply wish I had stayed out there longer to fully receive it, and to fully thank the crowd for their gift of attention.
When can we see the official YouTube video?
I am not sure, but I am estimating perhaps another 1-2 months before it will be available. I will be sure to post it when it is up!
Thank you again for all the support and encouragement. This has been a tremendous experience, and it’s not over yet! I truly hope the YouTube video will be a helpful and powerful resource for other nurses and healthcare professionals to look at grief in a very validating, and also very different light.