Humbled by TED

Humbled by TED

It’s official: thanks to TED, I’ve joined the ranks of talking-to-themselves-in-public persons – some of whom are engaged with voices in their heads, others to real live humans via Bluetooth. As I write this, I’m on an airplane to Toronto (where I will speak at a Complete Streets Forum). For an hour, I’ve been telling it to the clouds. A few minutes ago, I had to reassure the flight attendant that I was just crazy, not violating their cell phone policy.

Speeches are a huge part of my life. I’ve done a thousand or more in my career. I must be reasonably good at it, because I keep getting asked to do more.

But nothing before has been like the TEDx talk I’m doing this Saturday in Portland. An 18 minute live, memorized speech before not just an audience of 600 but webcast simultaneously and then posted on the internet. And maybe, just maybe, if folks really like it, I’ll get invited to one of the big TED conferences and get to share our story of hope and joy to a broader audience.  

TED stands for Technology, Environment, and Design, a 25 year old non-profit whose mission is promoting “ideas worth sharing.” The format is powerful and simple: short speeches focused around a theme; in this case, crossroads. I’m humbled to have been invited alongside an illustrious and diverse panel of leaders. Check out their website if you want to be inspired! 

What am I speaking about? What else? The power of bicycle transportation to empower people and transform communities.

I have rehearsed before dozens of colleagues, friends and family. Each offered valuable suggestions but my friend Sacha Reich, Director of the Jewish Theatre Collaborative, took me to a whole new level of insight on how to emote in just the right spots, step into character, flow the narrative, connect with the audience. Now I know why her plays are so beautiful. J

Just as when I was writing/editing Joyride, I have raked over the coals every word, phrase, and story, tightening, tweaking, strengthening. Each time I think I’m done, I toss and turn all night, my brain puzzling over something deep within, and I wake knowing that I have to change the order or clarify a sentence or tighten the language a little more. (The time limit is very strict, and the live performance usually takes longer than rehearsals.)  And now, I wander through my life, mumbling to myself as I chop veggies, do dishes, fold laundry, and bike to work.

We’re down to the wire now… do or die… wish me luck as I pedal onto the TED stage on Saturday afternoon, 4:00 PST. Enjoy the ride!

To watch TEDx Portland live, click here:

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