. I am giving a TED talk.
In 23 days, I’ll be on stage at TEDx Greensboro, speaking for 16 minutes about the Imagination Installations Project and my own experiences with the power of dreaming.
I am, to be blunt, scared shitless.
If you are not familiar with TED Talks, you should be. I really mean that. These meaningful, short presentations have the power to change lives. TED (originally an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, and Design) began in California in the early 1990s as a conference for computer industry innovators. Over the decades it’s evolved into global phenomenon of “Ideas Worth Spreading”. The rules for presenters are simple: talks must be 20 minutes or less, must be original and innovative, without jargon, boring PowerPoints, or notes.
For people like me, those of us who work as educators, entrepreneurs, and creative change agents, TED is a pent-ultimate career highlight. It’s the equivalent of going on the Oprah Winfrey show back when she had a show. Since the first time I watched a TED talk online, I’ve whispered quietly to myself, I want to do that. In three weeks, I will.
My feelings about speaking at TEDx Greensboro lie somewhere between excitement and blind fear. It’s surprising to me because I communicate for a living. I teach for three hours at a stretch, without notes, twice a week. Yet those 16 short minutes scare the bejeezus out of me. I need to sound expert, without being arrogant. Personable without too much inappropriate self-disclosure. Enthusiastic yet grounded. Rehearsed yet natural. I need to tell a powerful story that moves and inspires.
But the biggest fear comes from that little, bewildered voice inside of me that squeaks, They picked me? Really? What were they thinking?
I would be willing to bet substantial amounts of money that every TED speaker who took the stage had the same doubts and fears. No matter how accomplished, famous, or recognized we become, we remain grounded in our ordinary lives. We experience ourselves from the inside out. We were each a child once, and a teenager, and a young adult. In my own head I will always be the little girl from southwestern Virginia who loved to read, play with kittens, and ride horses. Who found school to be painfully socially awkward. Who was clumsy to the point of hilarity. Who doubted her own intelligence and worth. We all carry inside of us a population of early prototypes of our current self.
TED speakers are no different. I am no different.
In the middle of my fear, I know one thing for certain: When I step onto that stage, I will speak my Truth. I will talk about my experiences with the Imagination Installations project. I will describe from my own perspective as a counselor, educator, and human being why imagination matters. Why dreaming isn’t simply a cute past time, but fundamental to our continued thriving in a world plagued with problems.
And I know, when the time comes, all the fears will fall away. Because speaking at TED is my dream come true. And I plan to make the most out of ever short minute.
Cyndi Briggs is one of the founding volunteers of the Imagination Installations Project, a grassroots community effort to harness the collective power of our community’s dreams. Read more about her and why the ii Dreamers wanted her to be the one to take the TEDx Stage and tell our story here.
“We did not arrive on this earth to play it safe. We came here to grow, evolve, and change. Life demands it. Nature mirrors it. Dreaming is the pathway to evolution, the doorway into becoming the best versions of ourselves.” ~ Dr. Cyndi Briggs