By Wendy Crawford
Back in late February of this year, I received a phone call from my sister-in-law, excited because she had recommended that I be a speaker at a TEDx, Traverse City, Michigan. The night before, she had been at a party and met a previous speaker and he was looking for potential nominees. Although, I appreciated her enthusiasm and support, I was wondering what was expected of me and could I pull it off. For those of you not familiar, TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world. Depending on the location, some TEDx conferences recruit speakers through nominations and others may nominate themselves but must go through a rigorous process to be chosen.
After sending my biography and going through three different interviews over the phone, I was accepted as a speaker. I was so honored but at the same time, I had mixed emotions as I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and the anxiety started to kick in. Two of the people that interviewed me had been previous speakers and both had said that it was an amazing experience but also pushed them to their limits. Both of these men were heads of huge companies and so I thought if it was a stretch for them, how was I going to do this? I did public speaking years ago when I was first injured as I was a victim of a drunk driving accident but in a way, that was easier because I was just telling my story to students and community groups and answering questions. This was different as I was speaking with incredible movers and shakers AND I was to create something that shifted the way people think. I'm not an astronaut discussing my latest voyage to another planet nor a scientist who has created a world changing invention!