Speakers fascinate me. I like to witness their emotional, physical, mental, and creative preparations. I watch them processing feedback, crafting words and shaping stories. I watch their energy before they go on stage and as they come off. I like to see how they perform during tech rehearsal and how they respond “live” to unexpected laughs or audience reactions. The process of coaching speakers makes me feel tremendously alive.
So naturally all things “TED” engage me. The theme of this year’s TEDX New England was ‘Reimagining America”. The range of speakers, ideas and stories were provocative from “Capitalism Based on Love,” to “Curiosity and the Landing of the Mars Rover,” to “Hey, did you know the next speaker is probably going to be the next Secretary-of-State?” (No, but thanks for the heads up!) What I want to share in this post is the behind-the-scenes story of the speakers I met and worked with.
First of all, the WGBH studio is very impressive, both in front of the house and back stage. On the day of the event, speakers were ushered to a cozy green room, where a makeup artist did her magic. After that they were free to do whatever they wanted. The diversity of choice was interesting to notice…some stayed in the green room during the entire show. (There was a TV hooked up, but it wasn’t a good spot to watch the show from.) Some took a seat in the auditorium and didn’t move until cued to head to the stage. One speaker paced outside the auditorium and entered only when it was his turn to speak. One mad professor-type arrived about an hour before he was due to speak and then he disappeared. About five minutes before he was supposed to be on stage, he came out of the elevator…he’d been working in a conference room five floors above us. (Seriously, how can anyone even do that!)
The very last presenter, Adam Steltzner (former rock n’ roller and lead engineer of the Mars Curiosity Landing), admitted he needed to just zone out a bit in the green room to contain his energy for the final fascinating and fun presentation.
It was a delight to be in the river of connection with all of the speakers both during the day, and with some, for weeks of preparation beforehand. Not everyone was amazing on the stage, but everyone contributed to the confluence of new perspectives, stories, analysis, and creativity that makes TED talks so life affirming.