Best Tips to Prep a TEDx Talk (from a TEDx Speaker Coach)


Photo by Mary Fenton

Preparing a TEDx Talk is more challenging than most first-time TEDx speakers realize.

Even folks with vast public speaking experience find this TED Talk stuff to be a new animal.

I’ve been coaching speakers for TEDxAsburyPark (formerly TEDxNavesink) for the past few years and here are the best tips from the speakers I worked most closely with this year.

Their wisdom…in their own words…

After reading, click on each talk title to have a listen.

Search for a Deeper Truth: “Writing a talk (hopefully a good talk) requires practice, editing, openness, and a willing to throw it all out in search for a deeper truth. While any one of us might be subject experts, few of us probably have the expertise to make our subject digestible to a diverse audience. My coach helped me polish an idea into a talk that allowed my listeners to hear a very basic reality in a new way.” From Joe Primo, CEO of Good Grief


Joe Primo (and guest Izzy): Grief is Good (photo by Mary Fenton)

Own Your Talk: “It was really helpful when my coach made it very clear that it’s my talk to own, and that her guidance was not the holy grail. This allowed me to take ownership over my work and feel like it was authentically my message. I also found it helpful to be accountable to deadlines my coach and I set. This process taught me more about what I value in terms of my process and final product.” From Jasmin Singer, Memoirist (Always Too Much and Never Enough), Podcast Host (Our Hen House), Senior Editor of VegNews Magazine

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Best Ways to Up Your Happiness Output

The woman in the green jacket gets me thinking about happiness. I see her nearly every time I walk the boardwalk.

We make eye contact and she gives me a quick wave and warm smile.

One day I’m walking behind her for the first time. She appears a bit older than I am, from her veined legs and slightly hunched over posture. But she is super fast.

I’m curious to see the response her greeting gets from others so I jog to keep pace.

It turns out I’m not so special. She greets each person she passes. Every single one!

She rates a 10+ on my imaginary Happiness Output Scale.

It’s impossible for me to pass her by and not feel just a little bit happier.

What is your happiness output?

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Stop Doing These 5 Things to De-Stress Your Conversations

giraffes-627031_1920PixabaySomeone hurts you, annoys you, mistreats you, misinterprets your intentions or leaves you baffled.

You wonder, “Should I say something?”

If you choose to speak up, then what? What should you say? What’s the best way to say it?

All of this uncertainty can lead to a major build-up of stress as we become weighed down, not sure how to proceed.

Sometimes letting the issue go is the best option (and that’s fodder for another blog).

But, when we choose to have a conversation, what does it take to talk with someone without all the stress we may be feeling today?

Here are my best five ways to de-stress conversations.

#1 Stop Avoiding Conversations: I use the “shower rule.” If an issue repeatedly pops up when I’m in the shower (or during another mind-freeing moment) that’s my sign to have a conversation. Then I follow the “one week” rule and promise myself to find the right moment within the next week. Dragging this out longer only leads to more stress.

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Five Ways NOT to Respond When Someone Says “I Have Cancer”

Cancer PixabayI used to be tongue-tied and incredibly uncomfortable when someone said, “I’ve got some tough news to share.”

Compassion welled up inside of me but my words just sounded trite, awkward and maybe even insensitive.

It’s never easy to hear bad news. But as with most things in life, experience and practice help us grow.

I’ve had more practice than I would have liked at being both the receiver and sharer of bad news and it’s helped me to get better at being there for others.

Here’s why.

I’ve had cancer. Twice. Breast cancer in 2001 and melanoma (of my scalp) in 2014. Telling friends and family about my diagnoses was hard. I didn’t want pity. I didn’t want them to worry. And I especially didn’t want to hide my health situation from the people I most cared about.

My awareness was heightened each time I shared my news. When some reactions made me squirm, I was reminded that I haven’t always reacted in the best way either. This helped me have compassion when others’ words weren’t the ones I most needed to hear.

Here are five ways people responded to my cancer news.

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Want to Grow? Be a Feedback-Seeking Demon

What’s one thing you’d like to be really great at?

Maybe it’s listening, parenting, cooking, fitness or something else.

Whatever you choose to improve, becoming a feedback-seeking demon will help you get there.

Here’s a short example:

When I was a novice principal I wanted to improve my emotional intelligence so I asked my staff for feedback. And boy did the feedback provide me with some powerful realizations. The biggest aha was that empathy was my weakest area.

It wasn’t that I completely lacked empathy. Let’s just say I had lots of room for growth. And as a school principal, empathy was pretty darn important.

So, I asked my staff to let me know when I missed an opportunity to express empathy.

Once we get feedback, then what?

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5 Money-Saving Tax Strategies

salim-omarTax season is upon us, so I’m departing from my usual stress-related blog posts to share five significant tax advantages your company can enjoy. (But, don’t miss my special book offer below.)

These great tips are from guest blogger, Salim Omar.

Salim is the President of Straight Talk CPAs located in Morganville, NJ and author of the bestselling book, Straight Talk About Small Business Success in New Jersey.

I’ve known Salim for several years and count on him for practical wisdom, entrepreneurial acumen and friendship.

Here are five strategies Salim recommends you consider:

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The Best Thing to do When Someone is Venting

bucketspixabysheet-1392023__480I bet you’ve had this happen. You ask an employee, colleague or friend a question or confront them about an issue. Instead of the calm reply you were expecting, they let you have it, pouring out all of their frustrations.

I call this venting. But, my client Lindsay, has a more graphic “hold-your-nose” type of description: a word vomit.

And Lindsay hates when this happens. When she recently confronted an employee about a performance issue, what she got in return were tears and a side order of every built-up frustration.

Lindsay wanted to help her employee get beyond her litany of complaints so she could help her solve (and not avoid) the problem. But, how could she do that when her employee was in such an emotional state?

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How to Have a Mostly Healthy Relationship with Food

popcornwith-wordsMy relationship with food is complicated.

Here’s the short story: More than 20 years ago I ditched dieting after repeatedly losing and regaining the same 20ish pounds.

I let go of the dream of becoming thin and shifted my focus to becoming healthy. This required me to relearn how to use food to fuel my body—not comfort it.

As a result I’ve gradually developed a more peaceful relationship with food. I want to share what I’ve learned from my journey. It’s pretty simple yet truly profound (though it takes daily practice to achieve).

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Do You Suffer from Self-Inflicted Stress?

balloon-pop-free-digital-imagesHoliday time can bring out the stress in most of us. And so can everyday life.

We often think that stress is happening to us. But, what if we’re the main cause of all this stress?

Here’s a tiny example:

My husband and I are chatting over dinner. I sigh, “I have way too busy a day tomorrow!”

He replies in his deadpan way, “Speak with your scheduler.”

I chuckle because we both know that I’m the scheduler and the only one responsible for my too busy day.

Can you relate? If you answered “yes” then you know a thing or two about self-inflicted stress.

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Teen Trouble? Choose Empowerment Not Punishment

drinking-925288_1920picksabayShelly picked up her son from a high school party. She smelled alcohol on his breath as Jack slid into the front seat.

Shelly could have ignored this sign of teenage trouble but instead bravely asked, “Jack, have you been drinking?”

“Yeah, I had a few beers,” he mumbled.

Shelly later told me she felt like launching into a lecture. But, something stopped her. She simply said, “Thanks for giving me an honest answer, Jack. Go to bed and we’ll talk about it in the morning.”

Shelly seized an opportunity to change.

Then Shelly called me, her coach. We’d been working on shifting Shelly’s parenting style from  a punitive “take your cell phone away” approach to an empowering choice-based one. Shelly recognized this moment as an opportunity to parent in her new way. 

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