Speaking at TEDx Peachtree: Become the Vessel

Towed Out to Sea

A few weeks ago, I blogged about needing to make ideas more palatable.

Well, this afternoon I have an opportunity to strut my stuff at TEDxPeachtree. I’ll be speaking about how we don’t need heroes, and that anyone can use influence to affect societal change (you can watch via livestream at 3:05 this afternoon).

I have been preparing this speech for months now. With good reason… More than 5000 people are expected to watch the event in person and via livestream.

LiveYourTalk Founder and Speaking Coach Jill Foster has been working with me to maximize this opportunity.

We discussed a great deal about how my speaking has evolved over the past six years, how it used to be all ego, and now focuses on the delivery of quality information in an interesting, and even entertaining manner.

What Jill is worried about is me being too smart and intellectual about the concepts. So we deconstructed the speech, and rebuilt it for unity and contextual understanding of the oral word.

In Jill’s words, to make the TEDx speech work, I need to become the vessel, a vessel that safely brings great information to shore.

It’s become an interesting writing and learning experience, and I’ve learned quite a bit from Jill’s coaching.

Tips from Jill

Geoff Livingston

Jill offered several critical tips to help, including:

Master the Rubric: Speaking really masters the art of rhetoric. Jill has a specialized rubric that focuses on bridges, clarity, and repetition to make sure points are delivered well orally. So bridges and themes were added to the speech to master the rubric, and make the speech as accessible as possible.

Edit Relentlessy: Great composition requires consistent refinement and simplification (at least in my case). I’m not saying my speech is great. I am saying that it has been refined over a dozen times to make it as palatable and easy to digest as a live speech.

Practice: She was less concerned about my actual speaking style as presence doesn’t seem to be an issue, as seen here in a speech given to Triberr.

I wrote the TribeUp speech the night before speaking. For this TEDx effort, practice took the forefront so I don’t have the ums, you knows, etc. And I have been practicing daily for this speech over the past month. We’ll see if it pays off.

Listening to Yourself: One thing I hate about speeches is listening to myself. To help prepare, I recorded myself reading the speech, and listened to it over and over again. This actually helped me digest points and mentally associate key phrases with certain parts of the outline.

Why I’m Investing

Warren Landry Interviewed by May Yu and Jill Foster
With time and reflection, CitizenGulf has become one of my favorite social good projects. Jill Foster is pictured on the right.

Of course, I want to become a better speaker, and that’s part of my motive to work with Jill. And then there’s the whole fear of embarrassment at a TED event, extra scary given I will be speaking with no slides.

But there’s more here.

The topic and the opportunity means a lot to me. I’ve had the great benefit of working solely in the nonprofit space over the past few years.

During that time I’ve seen a nonprofit with a Klout score of 10 kick total butt and movements arise out of nowhere. I know what people can do when they have passion, care and a willingness to act.

At the same time, circumstance has forced me to move more than half — but not all — of my work into the for-profit sector. Currently, I’m the sole bread winner for the house, and that’s made nonprofit work a luxury I cannot afford full-time.

Circumstance may prevent me from working full time in the nonprofit space again. I will always have a hand in charitable work because it’s who I am and what I believe in.

But from a sector perspective, this may be my best opportunity to give away the knowledge so freely given to me by Beth Kanter, Katya Andresen, John Haydon, Frank Barry and so many others.

In many ways I see this TEDx speech — done right — as an opportunity to provide real meaningful knowledge and experience to people. Most importantly, the speech could give folks hope.

So it’s time to throw the dice, and become the vessel.