TEDx Part 1: Preparing for the Big Day

For several years I’ve had the fantasy of giving a TED talk.

In that fantasy I am perfectly at ease; the crowd is both amused and mesmerized; I am really leaning into this talk, standing on the iconic red circle amongst sea of black. My talk provides a sense of inspiration to the crowd – just like I felt when I watched talks from Brené Brown and Noah Feldman. It is a pretty dramatic fantasy world.

But what in the world am I actually talking about?!

There are a million things I am passionate about -- the loss of species in the world, cutting edge science fiction, how to cook perfect pasta -- but why would anyone want to hear me give a TED talk?

So I really backed myself into a corner when someone kindly said, "sure, Kat, we'll put you in the lineup for a TEDx in Charlottesville. Have at it."


If you are me, you will instantly tell all your friends who will then: (a) send you TED talks where people are absolutely brilliant which starts to immediately set an impossible bar; (b) suggest topics that in no way, shape or form you could tackle; and (c) announce that they will be there to see you speak and bring absolutely everyone you have ever known to hear you talk.

There is absolutely no pressure.

So, I began a multi-month process of trying to figure out how to craft a talk that I might be qualified to give that will also be of any interest to anyone else; that will resonate with the live, local audience but also the global, online audience, and that I might be able to remember sufficiently to not require pity applause or a rescue from the stage.

Its no surprise that one of the reasons TED talks are so powerful is they all come from a place of personal experience. If you are going to stand up, in my case, in front of 1,000 people, you better mean what you say and say what has meaning to you.

After some sweat, tears and maybe even a little blood, I got, sort of, a talk together. Then I began to edit and modify. Every morning, after a cup of coffee, I would try to give my talk to the video unit on my computer and every morning, I would not make it through. The dog would bark, and the next part of the talk would just wisp away. Or I would hear myself present an idea in a way that was better than what I had written -- and start thinking "wow, that's better" and the next part of the talk would dissolve from my memory bank.

You get the idea. Completely nerve-wrecking. How am I ever going to get this finished and successfully presented at this rate?!

I did come up with a title: I, You, We: Seeing Race in America One Person at a Time

Ok, at this point I have more than just the title. And, I’m excited to share it all with you. Stay-tuned: my fantasy becomes reality on November 3rd at 9AM. If you’d like, you can watch the live stream here.

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