I gave a TED talk! OK, not exactly — I gave a TEDx talk, which is the locally organized, non-branded version, but same idea. 18 minutes or less, somewhat sloganistic, a flavor of self-improvement and inspiration.
I was skeptical of the format. 18 minutes! How can you do anything? You can really just say one thing. No opportunity to digress. Since digression is my usual organizational strategy, this was a challenge.
And there’s a format. The organizers explained it to me. Not to be hewed to exactly but taken very seriously. A personal vignette, to show you’re a human. A one-sentence takeaway. General positivity. A visual prop is good. The organizers were lovely and gave me lots of good advice when I practiced the talk for them. I was very motivated to deliver it the way they wanted it.
And in the end, I found the restrictiveness of the format to be really useful. It’s like a sonnet. Sonnets are, in certain ways, all the same, by force; and yet there’s a wild diversity of sonnets. So too for TED talks. No two of the talks at TEDxMadison were really the same. And none of them was really like Steve’s TED talk (though I did read a poem like Steve) or Amanda Palmer’s TED talk or (thank goodness) like the moleeds TED talk.
No room in the talk to play the Housemartins song “Sitting on a Fence,” which plays a key role in the longer version of the argument in How Not To Be Wrong. So here it is now.