So, I had kind of a big week last week. Understatement.
It all started a couple weeks ago. On July 13, I got a tweet from a guy named Jon Yeo saying how much he liked my Ignite talk from last year. I told the Snook excitedly, “Ooh, he’s the organiser for TEDx Melbourne!”
— Jon Yeo (@jontv) July 13, 2016
I replied thanking him, and pointing him to the updated version I did at SydJS in April. He said, “If you are ever in Melbourne, we would love to do a version of it for our event.” Pretty nice! I told him I’d let him know.
Buoyed with confidence, I decided to take a step I’d been thinking about for a long time. I emailed someone in the local tech industry that I admire, asking if she’d be willing to discuss possibly mentoring me. She wrote back and said yes! We scheduled our first catch-up for the morning of August 2.
Then on July 19th, TEDx Jon sent me a DM saying “Would you consider doing a 5min version for TEDxMelbourne on Aug 3?” I just about fell over. He asked me to send him my phone number, and he rang me a few minutes later. We had a very quick chat, but the gist of it was that yes, he really was serious and wanted to fly me to Melbourne in two weeks to deliver my 5 minute talk at TEDx. On his side he had to scramble to fit me into the program, and on my side I had to book plane tickets, update my talk again, and start rehearsing.
While that was happening, my friend Daphne mentioned that she thought my talk would fit in well at PubConf, an upcoming night of lightning talks that was part of NDC Sydney. (Daphne was giving a conference talk at NDC.) She emailed the organiser Todd Gardner and introduced the two of us. On July 20, Todd wrote back to excitedly offer me a spot on the PubConf lineup on August 5th. So suddenly I was giving two talks in one week!
Embarrassment of riches today. Two speaking invitations – including TEDx Melbourne!!!! – and I'm doing a BBC Radio interview tomorrow night!
— Kris Howard (@web_goddess) July 20, 2016
Then followed two weeks of me walking around, reciting my talk at every free opportunity. For PubConf I’d be doing it Ignite style (aka 5 minutes with auto-advancing slides), but for TEDx I would control my own slide transitions. I swapped out three of the old slides to make room for new stuff and tighten up the theme a bit. I went through all of the images I’d used, making sure I had permission/rights for each of them and contacting people for the new ones. I had to send my slides to each event, and for TEDx I had to sign a release allowing TED to potentially use the video anywhere. I emailed my friend Eileen to see if I could crash with her in Melbourne. (She got my +1 ticket too!)
The time flew by. On Tuesday, I had the meeting with my potential mentor and it went SO WELL! She agreed to take me on and we’re going to meet up once a month. I’m excited to learn from her and hopefully gain some experience that will help me in the next phase of my career.
On Wednesday morning, I flew to Melbourne. The flight ended up landing 25 minutes late, but I knew I wasn’t going on until the end of the day. I made my way to the MCEC and spent most of the day in the green room, watching the talks on a monitor and getting to know some of the other speakers. They were all incredibly accomplished, and I felt Imposter Syndrome starting to creep in. I knitted to stay calm. During the lunch break, I went out onto the empty stage for sound check and to get a feel for the room. There were about 1300 people in attendance! Then I got frocked up and miked up, and I was finally able to meet Jon in person. (He’d been running around all day.) I found Eileen in the final break before my talk, and she joined me in the seats at the front of the auditorium. There was one speaker before me, and I couldn’t focus at all on what he was saying. I just kept breathing.
And then it was time. I remember climbing the stage and taking the clicker from the host Troy, who whispered, “Take your time!” I walked across to the red rug, trying to remain calm and confident. And then I started. I went into complete auto-pilot mode, and I remember noting that my voice only quavered a couple times at the beginning. (Eileen said she didn’t notice.) The lights were really bright, and I could barely see anyone in the audience. Fortunately they laughed at all the right places, and I loosened up quickly. When I mentioned my prize-winning Easter Show mittens, I actually got applause. That’s when it got super fun, and I knew they were all with me. When I finished, I stood on the stage in the applause as Troy and Zara made their way up to congratulate me. I had given Troy my light-up beanie in the lunch break, and he wore it onstage with the lights blinking. It was the perfect capper. I was practically floating. I went back to my seat and saw my Twitter lighting up with mentions. It was a big hit!
After a fun evening in Melbourne with Eileen (first at the TEDx after party, and then at dinner with her boyfriend Jack), I flew back to Sydney on Thursday and went straight to work. Less than 48 hours later, it was time to do it again for PubConf.
I arrived at Hotel CBD and went up to introduce myself to the organiser, Todd. He beamed, telling me he’d been bragging all week that he’d managed to score a TEDx speaker for his event! He’d given me a plum spot at the end of the first block, and I knew the audience was going to be warmed up and receptive. Since it was Ignite-style, I had to talk a lot faster to get in the info, but that fit well with the energy in the room. I also, uh, swore a lot more. My friend Amy was there, and she helpfully played Vanna White and held up a couple of my projects as I talked about them. The crowd loved it! I was BOUNCING with adrenaline when I came off the stage. I felt like I’d just won a race.
Thanks to everyone who wished me luck this week and cheered afterwards. I love entertaining you all, and I appreciate all the help and support you’ve given me!
(And no, the video’s not up on the TEDx site yet. As soon as it is, I’ll be sure to share…)