TEDx Experience with Mary Lupien

Part of: Bucket List: Give a TEDx Talk.

Mary Lupien ©2016 TEDxRochester

I’m on the path to the TEDx stage and I wanted to hear directly from some TEDx speakers. See more on this series Here and Here.

Today we’re hearing from Mary Lupien who was a recent TEDx presenter at TEDxRochester.

Have you shared your idea before or was TEDx your first time sharing that particular idea?

Charity vs Justice is a concept that many are grappling with. Trying to help suburban churches mostly make the connection to poverty with their actions not just their money. But I hadn’t explored it in terms of my personal story. I actually had intended to give a different talk. I had wanted to flip looking at poverty — by instead of looking at it as a group of failed individuals, looking at the systemic issues that create inequities. It wasn’t until the end when I started talking about my relationship with my dad, did the organizers latch on to what they thought could be an interesting angle.

Did you find and apply to TEDx or did the organizers reach out to you?

My friend was on the speaker team. She encouraged me to apply and helped me flesh out ideas before I sent in my application. Though she had no inside pull.

What did you think or feel as you found out you were selected?

I had a good idea after talking to the team that I might be selected. I felt we all connected at the interview table and I left with a really great feeling — like a high. But I knew that the event was curated and my topic might not fit. So when I was actually selected I was so happy, but couldn’t share it too much because I wasn’t allowed to be public about it for a while!

Did you have a speaking coach?

The speaker team helped shape the form of the talk. I did have some guidance from a friend on what to emphasize and some from the team as well.

How did you practice?

In my back yard, with my 6 year old, in front of my husband. I just kept reading it over and over. It was my story so I knew it, but I had to remember the order of the sections, so I’d just remember a key word that gave me a clue and had an ordered list of those.

Are you hoping to do another one?

Maybe — I’m running in an election for city council so I’m focused on that right now. Maybe in the future I’d do another one.

What has the reaction been like?

Great. I was surprised how many people had similar experiences growing up. I was really humbled by people’s compliments. It was so wonderful to be in the presence of so many great people!

Would you do anything differently to prepare?

I would video myself and look at that. Turns out I do this thing with my lip that I never knew I did and I do it ALL THE TIME. lol. I didn’t know till after I saw the draft video after the fact.

How has your idea evolved since your TEDx?

I’m thinking of different aspects. What the role money plays in all this and how money can be used justly. How privilege is perceived in the black community — the idea was posed to me from a black man, that white people are not privileged. That just the very concept is elitist. I’m trying to wrap my head around that concept. As white people we’re supposed to acknowledge our privilege but I’m trying to see beyond that to understand what he means.

As I’m hearing from speakers I’m RIVETED and I’m taking away some lessons learned that I want to make sure I take note of. Here are my big-aha’s from Mary:

“I actually had intended to give a difference talk.” I’ve heard this before from a few speakers and this is SO interesting to me. I want to make sure that as I’m considering this process that I’m not locked in to one talk when a director or speaker board could help me shape an even better option.

“A friend encouraged me to apply.” YES! I think we all need a nudge and hearing this from people that have been selected has been a wonderful reminder that we MUST ask.

“I would video myself and look at that.” This is a great one I’m putting on my action item list. I know from watching some recorded webinars that I’ve done that I can talk too quickly when I get excited or push my hair from my face in a way that I find totally annoying and distracting. I want to make sure I’ve gotten some of this resolved especially as I’m giving my Big Talk.

“I’m thinking of different aspects.” I love this because I see the TEDx stage as a really amazing launch-pad and I’m excited to see what new things come up from the experience as a whole.

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