The Blog

Giving A TED Talk

Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images

For those of you that don't know my story, I was involved in a horrific speedboat accident in Cornwall in May 2013, in which I lost my husband, 8 year old daughter and the lower part of my left leg. My whole world changed in a split second and over the past three and half years I have had to learn to adapt to this new life whilst grieving my past one and being a single parent to my three surviving children. I have a new appreciation of time, as my husband and daughter don't have any more time but I do and I owe it to them to make the most of it.

The life I thought I was going to live and two of the precious people I thought I would be sharing it with have gone and I have been left as a widow, single parent and amputee. I have learnt so much about myself and about life in the last three and half years and I want to urge people to appreciate what they have rather than always striving for more. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to reveal strengths and attributes we didn't know we had, through sharing my story I have discovered a love of public speaking and live TV presenting. I enjoy everything about it, even the nerves and knotted stomach before I go on, I get such a buzz from standing in front of an audience or a camera, connecting wth viewers.

I was asked to be one of the speakers at the TEDx Conference in Truro in September 2016. Having discovered Ted talks about 12 months ago and listened to them as much as I can, I immediately said yes and as the conference was in Cornwall, it felt very relevant to me. TED started in 1984 in California and is a non profit making organization that spreads ideas in the form of talks no longer than 18 minutes. They are incredibly varied, educational, inspirational, thought provoking or just down right funny.

The talks have to be 18 minutes or less, which was a challenge for me as I had given many talks before but had had no time limit. I was so conscious of not going over the time limit and as you are not allowed cue cards or a monitor, I had to learn the talk pretty much off by heart. However, as it is such a personal and emotional story I didn't want it to sound too stilted so I learnt paragraph headlines so that I knew what was coming next rather than word for word. I had a good 6 months notice to write and practise the talk but I find it impossible to work unless I have an imminent deadline. So I sat down about three weeks before to write and perfect the speech, why do I create this anxiety and panic for myself I ask? I am not alone, one of the TED talks shown at the conference was Tim Urban's Behind the Mind of a Master Procrastinator, where he talks about the distraction monkey in all of us, and how we will do anything to avoid sitting down to do what we are meant to be doing.

There were 8 speakers in total and we were all given a chance to rehearse the day before. Thank goodness did, as my rehearsal went very badly. We had to stand on a red carpet circle with bright lights shining on us. I was extremely nervous and forgot what I was going to say a couple of times, the mike wasn't working properly and I didn't get in all the points I wanted to. I went back to the hotel and practiced and practiced in front of the mirror until I couldn't bear to listen to myself any longer!

I arrived at the school for the morning talks and the atmosphere was amazing. Anyone who has had to wait to do a speech will understand that this is worse than the speech itself. There were 4 other talks before it was my turn, they were so interesting and engaging that the time flew by, then it was my turn to go back stage, get miked up and stand on the red circle. I couldn't remember anything, my mouth was dry, my hands were shaking, why on earth had I agreed to do this? But then a funny thing happened, I remembered the first few sentences and then I relaxed into it and found my stride, even remembering the little jokes I liked to throw in to lighten the mood, god knows my story needs it.

If you have a spare 17 minutes and 46 seconds (yes I was cutting it fine...) and have experienced loss or are going through anything challenging in life then click on the link below and I hope that you can relate to some of what I talk about or can at least say, 'well I thought my situation was bad!'