How Michael Port Saved My TEDx Talk

Listen to the TREPX Podcast Episode 50 with Michael Port, Micky Deming, and Michael Luchies

The spotlight was hot and all eyes were on me. My moment to share was here and I felt as though I was on top of the world. I was standing on the big red dot giving my TEDx talk and I could tell the audience was feeling it as much as I was.

My entire speech had changed two and a half weeks before giving it, but I knew it front and back and had strung together a dozen flawless performances to shadows, mirrors, and walls…but now I was in front of an audience, photographers, live-streaming audience, and a half-dozen video cameras.

My speech quickly went from my personal best performance to my worst nightmare. The head that was once filled with my prepared thoughts, insight, and quotes went completely blank. I literally forgot everything. In that moment, I don’t even think I could’ve told you my name.

I had just finished a passionate portion of my talk and all I could see or think of was nothingness. For a split second, I thought everything might fall apart, and I would quickly become the laughing stock of hundreds and eventually thousands once this disaster was uploaded to YouTube.

Rewinding things a bit, 48 hours before my talk I had the opportunity to talk to New York Times Bestselling Author and Professional Speaker and Coach Michael Port (Steal the Show, Book Yourself Solid) on the TREPX Podcast. Host Micky Deming, who I also work with at Kahuna Business Group, saw an opportunity to pair Michael Port and I on the podcast due to my upcoming TEDx talk and Port’s expertise and passion for public speaking.

We talked about how performing is a part of our everyday lives, anxiety, preparation, and accepting feedback among other related items. Before ending the interview, Micky asked Michael Port to give me his final advice and tips for me to consider over the next two days. Here’s what Michael had to say.

Michael Port:

“Stay in the moment. Don’t anticipate what’s going to happen next. Allow your material to come to you organically in that moment so you’re connected for real, in real-time, with real people. If you drop a line; if you do something different;don’t sweat it, the audience will never know. Don’t apologize. When we get upset about it, it affects our performance. You don’t need to force anything, allow it to be organic and real.

Back to the speech.

I was staring at the audience with a blank face and an empty mind. I was ready to scream and run off of the stage, but I remembered to stay in the moment and keep my connection with the audience. I knew if I forced something or kept stressing about what came next I may never recover.

I turned slightly to the side and walked across the stage; keeping my composure and remaining calm. I looked at someone in the audience and said something to them that I hadn’t planned on saying and was never a part of my talk. “It’s our stories that people connect with.” It was a strong line that probably should’ve been in my speech, but I hadn’t thought of it before that moment.

By the time I finished that sentence, I was already calmer and the rest of the talk flowed from me.

If I hadn’t been there in the moment and allowed my fear and panic to set in, I never would’ve of been able to naturally come up with it.

I don’t expect to win any awards or to go on a public speaking tour, but that’s not what I was trying to do in the first place. I wanted to share and to have the opportunity to impact others positively with my story. If I wouldn’t have allowed myself to embrace the moment and connect with the environment and the people in the audience, they would’ve remembered how awkward the talk was or how bad I messed up instead of what I wanted to leave them with.

See for yourself: Until the edited video is released by TED on YouTube, you can watch the livestream replay of my talk here. The moment I lost everything is at 1:42:39 in the feed.

Listen to the full 50th episode of the TREPX Podcast with Michael Port, Micky Deming and myself here. It’s a great interview, and I’m grateful for Michael’s advice.

This is usually where I’d leave information about myself, but instead, I’d like to thank everyone who helped and supported me during this fun journey. There were well over a dozen people who listened to me blabber on about ideas, tuned in to recordings to provide feedback, and provided support and coaching along the way. Among the many that helped, I’d like to thank organizer Doan Winkel, coach Brad Boyer, Michael Port, Katie Sowa, Mike Veny, Erica Luchies, Shuly Oletzky, Kim Behrens Kaufman, Mary DeLeonardis, Cory Levy, Micky Deming, Frank Lunn, strategist Dr. HermanSJr., and everyone else who gave me the support and boost I needed.

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