My answer to What does it feel to give a TEDx talk?
Answer by Vijayendra Mohanty:
Because I have not really done much public speaking, it was a little unnerving at first. When I was asked to speak at(Bhubaneswar), I said yes without giving it much thought. This was primarily because I knew my discomfort would only rise if I thought more about it. So I decided to trap myself into this situation.
I had three months to prepare a talk on the evolution of storytelling in mythology. After the roster of speakers was formally announced, I was happily trapped. I was also slightly terrified, but I told myself that’s a good thing.
Partly because of work and largely because of my monumental laziness, I kept putting off the actual scripting of my talk until a week before the event. After realisation struck and panic set in, I began hastily putting together a pile of material and statistics that I figured I would be needing. It didn’t take long, so I mistakenly imagined the actual writing won’t take long either.
The writing wasn’t difficult in and of itself. It was just that I kept thinking “this is a god-damn TEDx talk!” and questioning what I had written. I thought the structure wasn’t right and that I am not presenting the best possible form of my argument and that people will not easily understand what I am saying.
I was supposed to have finished writing my talk, rehearsed it before people, taken feedback, and become comfortable presenting it. But I was still writing it when I got on the plane to Bhubaneswar. Fortunately, the plane ride proved fruitful and I finally put together the final version of my talk. I thought it was good.
But then I landed and the young woman who had been sent to take me to my temporary accommodation said that she was looking forward to hearing some stories the next day. I looked at the talk I made and realised with a sinking feeling — TEDx is not about data and information.
When I got to my room, I ditched my entire presentation and started once more from scratch. This time, it was less about the technicalities of running a Youtube channel and more about the form of stories and how their telling is different in the digital age. As I finished, I also realised that it was the one-year anniversary of my grandfather’s death. It sort of became a bracket for my presentation.
I stayed up till the early hours of the day, rehearsing the talk before an imaginary audience.
In the morning, when I went up on the stage and started talking, it was really not as paralysing as I thought it would be. I have always had terrible stage fright and I still do. But it got better when I started talking about my grandfather.
When I watch the video of my talk, I can plainly tell it is not the best TEDx talk given in the history of mankind. But is it the best TEDx talk I have ever given? Absolutely.
I think what I took away from it was a sort of practical validation of what a lot of us believe — that there is value in doing the things you are afraid of.