TEDx Experience
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TEDx Experience

My TEDx Talk on the Magic of Not Giving a F*ck Has 10 Million Views (and counting)

Here are 5 tips on how you can get there too


When TEDxCoconutGrove reached out to me about speaking at their 5th annual conference, the first thing I did was email Dr. Emily Nagoski, author of Come as You Are, friend, and TEDx alum. I told her the whole thing made me a little nervous, and she told me the secret was simply to prep my ass off. What she actually said was, “I’m sure you can handle it because you are constitutionally incapable of not doing your best.” (She wasn’t wrong, but still . . . a thousand people???) With her pep talk in my back pocket, I took a deep breath, said yes to TEDx, and embarked upon ten months’ worth of writing, revising, and memorizing — plus collaborating with Nadine Hanafi of We Are Visual on a set of slides, which meant practicing my talk with the slides — and also practicing my talk nude, intoxicated, and in front of a restaurant full of bored, Spanish-speaking wait staff. I’ll let you wonder whether I did all of those at the same time.


The other thing I did after I accepted TEDxCoconutGrove’s invitation was download Chris Anderson’s TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking. Ultimately, it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already intuitively know, but I think it’s probably very helpful for people who aren’t as used to writing out arguments and/or hogging the conversation at dinner parties. (Yeah, so what? I’m an attention whore — it makes me a good public speaker.)


The gentleman who went on stage before me was a lawyer who spoke about torture in Cuban prisons. And he was appropriately serious, as was a woman whose talk centered on the untimely death of her husband and daughter. In my case (and befitting my “brand”), I wanted my speech to be funny. Your topic and tone should match, and they should also be organic to who you are. A lawyer who goes out there and tries to do stand-up comedy about Fidel Castro is probably going to fall flat.


In retrospect, I should have practiced in front of more actual people. Because although my husband was a patient listener, there’s just no way one person is going to laugh at every joke, every time — especially after three or four run-throughs, let alone forty-seven. Apart from him, a few Dominican waitresses, and the lizards who live on our terrace (a famously tough crowd), rehearsing was a relatively solitary process. Which meant that I never developed a clear sense of pacing outside of my own performance. It was 9 minutes and 45 seconds, pretty much every time. But the actual talk came in at over twelve. Huh.


You’ve written a good speech — by this point many people/lizards have approved its content — and you’ve committed it to memory. Congrats! Maybe you even did some light choreography, plus you’ve got your slide-clicking finger well-trained. Great. But what happens if the mic goes on the fritz? Or if your PowerPoint slides black out? Or you catch a super cute nude patent leather Stuart Weitzman cork wedge sandal in the plush red carpet on stage and fall on your face? Believe it or not, these were all things I planned for. I rehearsed not only my speech, but what I would do if there was a technical malfunction or a Jennifer Lawrence-y stumble. I’m not kidding. (I’m also not very coordinated.) Luckily, nothing did go wrong, but if it had, I had a few tricks up my yellow Juliet cap sleeve…

The No F*cks Given Guides



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sarah knight

NYT bestselling author of The No Fucks Given Guides | My new book is GROW THE F*CK UP | Check it out here: https://sarahknight.com/gtfu