My Experience of Speaking in Japan at TEDX
By Sally Forrest
14th March 2019
Out of the blue an E-mail arrives from TEDx, asking me to speak on the topic of Self Esteem in the context of " What makes us, us." The mail originated in Japan, a famous Onsen City and home to the prestigious Asia Pacific University, who will be hosting the event. My first reaction was that maybe this is another of these e-mail hoaxes, as I have no contacts in Japan and had not applied to speak on TEDx. After a few e-mail exchanges it was clarified that extensive research had been conducted, my videos had been watched, on- line searches completed and TEDx wanted me to speak on the topic of Self Esteem.
Boom! After I picked myself up off the floor, the thought crossed my mind " Do I have the confidence and self esteem to speak on self esteem?" ...and in a foreign country like Japan! It was an amusing comment that I made to myself and in that same moment I decided this is where Self Management and Leadership springs into action. I said YES to life!
The next 3 months proved to be exciting, thought provoking, frustrating, stretching and beyond my imagination. Scripts had to be written, speaker teams reviewed, PR teams briefed, slides approved, video rehearsals submitted, and an eye kept firmly on the live event date.
Time was always a motivator, not only to ensure the live speech was less than the required 18 minutes, but also to meet all the deadlines of event build up whilst juggling a successful business at the same time.
So here are a few key learnings:
1. Your talk is always about delighting the audience. Foster inspiration, learning and wonder for the audience, this is the end goal. Understand who the audience is and begin with this in mind. The talk is not about you, you are merely the instrument through which the message is shared.
2. Cultural sensitivity is a must. The Japanese concept of self esteem in a collective culture was very different to an individualistic, western, business background approach. This resulted in much debate and a softening down of some of the key lessons on Self Esteem. The ground must be fertile for the message to be heard.
3. There is never enough "time". This is true for preparation and also for presentation. The build up can be up to 4 months, which seems like an eternity, however the time passes by very quickly. Skype sessions, Script Submissions, Speaker Panel reviews, Re-scripting, all takes time, energy and effort. During this process the highs and lows of working long distance, with different cultures and barriers of communication are all part of the rich learning! Stay calm and positive with the end goal in mind.
4. Enjoy the full journey. Travelling to Japan, landing in Fukuoka, travelling by coach to Beppu, being met by TEDx guides...was an additional learning experience. No one spoke much English, and my Japanese was zero, so it was down to faith and trust that we got to be where we needed to be. A full day of rehearsals after an overnight flight with no sleep, added to the experience.
5. Walk the stage and get used to the technology and the blinding lights. The view the audience experiences is very different to the view the speaker has. Master the small red circle on the floor as you cannot step outside of it ;)
6. Enjoy the moment. 18 minutes is over in the blink of an eye. When it comes to your moment, take a deep breath and enjoy...in joy! Share your message, inspire and make a difference one person at a time. Be in the moment and simply be the best you!
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