“When you reframe something, you must first deconstruct what was once there. That can be excruciating, when that something is you.” — quote from my recent TEDx Talk with Charles Thomas
Valaida presenting during TEDxCLT 2013, photography by Deborah Triplett
Friday was a phenomenal day. Charles and I co-presented at TEDxCharlotte to a sold-out audience of 500. The experience was exhilarating. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a local forum for presentation, innovation, connection, discussion and inspiration.
For months, I worked with Charles to isolate a single idea (worth spreading) from our shared experience creating Giving Back. We would meet for an hour or two, once or twice a week since December, to engage in stream-of-consciousness exploration of our aspirations, struggles, achievements, questions, fears, yearning and learning, catalyzed by our book project. In retrospect it might seem unsurprising, but the idea we finally landed on surprised us both. Exploring idea after idea took us full circle, leading us right back to the one on which our book was built: the power of reframing. Reframing an issue. Reframing images. Reframing ideas. Reframing identity.
Charles Thomas presenting at TEDxCLT 2013, photography by Deborah Triplett
We then invested time poring over videos of TED and TEDx Talks and determining how best to weaving a narrative with threads from our respective personal stories where “reframing” was central. Each of us had many stories to choose from, some from experiences around the book and some from our lives before and after the book. Narrowing to three or four vignette stories was difficult. Once we found our stories, we focused on finding words and sequencing phrases to convey a compelling message. As co-presenters, we also worked to braid our storytelling with coherence. Along the way, the presentation’s title emerged: A Picture Reframed.
A guiding force during the months-long process was our presentation coach, Lou Solomon of Interact. Lou develops leaders and builds business through authentic communication. Once Charles and I sketched out our talk, Lou, and her colleague Patrick Sheehan, advised us how best to reach our goal of delivering an extraordinary presentation that could move and inspire people. They videotaped our practice sessions, even the raw, early ones, and then together we would watch and critique the presentation. Though videos intimidated me at first, I soon learned their value. My cringing and self-criticism eventually gave way to constructive self-critique.
I learned how strengthening a presentation is much like editing and refining a written piece. Both require more time, effort, introspection, honesty and practice than most people are willing to commit. My confidence as a presenter grew through the experience with Lou and Patrick.
With some input from Candice Langston (our TEDxCharlotte presentation coach), more practice and an onsite rehearsal at Silver Hammer Studios a week prior to the big event (not to mention 15+ months of polishing our presentation style while on the road promoting our book), Charles and I felt well prepared for February 15th.
You can take a look at the culmination of our most recent collaboration as soon as the video is released. I will, of course, share it with you. Count on it!
P.S. In the meantime, here’s a 2-minute video that offers an overview of TEDxCharlotte 2013.