How I Prepared for my TEDx Talk in 35 days

Holy crap. There I was, a mere month before the talk of my life, mincing around a thermal spa in my robe and mules (that’s the name of those posh lounging slippers, I discovered).

On Saturday 12th March 2016 I gave a TEDx Talk at TEDxBathUniversity. I am delighted to report that I survived it without slips, trips or falls. But it could've turned out very differently. In this post - the first of two - I share:

when and how I was invited to give my TEDx Talk

how I began to prepare for my TEDx Talk; and

a video of how I collated content to use in my TEDx Talk. 


At the beginning of February, I was on a training course at the Oval Cricket Ground learning how to be a better trainer. By the afternoon break I had knocked back half a dozen cups of filter coffee, grazed over a typically generous cricket buffet and was feeling very comfortable indeed. 

It was then that I took out my phone and read this email:



Hoax. Mistake. Somebody’s taking the piss. Hang on, calm down. Let’s check the email account of the sender. No mickey, no mouse. Sent via…this has come through the website contact page…surely a mistake. But to have sent it through my website page must mean that they’ve actually seen my mug shot (at the time, one could simply not miss my ‘moon’ head on the landing page of the website). It was impossible to mistake me for someone else. Hang on, calm down. There must be another explanation for this. Maybe the sender is asking me to forward this on to one of my clients. That’s what it’ll be. Yes. In fact, the sender writes ‘as you are an alumnus of the university’. Well, unfortunately I am not an alumnus. Ha. So it must be a mistake. 

The break was over. I was back in the Prince of Wales Room talking about learning behaviours and Nuero Linguistic Programming. At least, I think I was. My head, meanwhile, was thinking shit, shit, holy shit, what if it’s not a mistake?!

The email invitation was not a mistake. On the Friday evening, 5th February, I spoke to the wonderful organiser, Jess Verdon. Within 30 minutes I had accepted the invitation and confirmed to Jess that I would speak on Saturday 12th March 2016. I had 35 days to prepare the talk of my life. 


On the official TEDx website there is advice on how to prepare for your talk. TED recommends the following timeline:

6 months before the event’s day: Thesis and basic outline due
5 months out: A script or detailed outline due
4 months out: Second draft and first rehearsals
3 months out: Final draft and more rehearsals
2 months out: Bi-weekly rehearsals
1 month out: Weekly rehearsals
2 weeks out: Take a break. (Don’t think about the talk.)
1 week out: Rehearsals
1-2 days out: Dress rehearsals

Crumbs. I had 5 weeks

Ideally, I would have simply cancelled everything in my diary for the forthcoming weeks, locked myself in the office and not surfaced until the big day. But unfortunately I didn't have that luxury. I looked at the first two of the 5 weeks I had to prepare for the talk:

  1. a 3-day break with my wife to a luxury spa ahead of Valentines Day; followed by a long weekend with friends visiting from Sweden.
  2. preparing and delivering a workshop on Creative Thinking; attending a tech awards ceremony; and meeting friends in London for a long-overdue catch up. 

OK. Don't panic. You're a professional. You can do this and it will be all right on the night. 

I then discovered that all of the other speakers had finished and submitted their scripts before the start of my Week 1. Also, our slide decks needed to be submitted to the AV team on the Wednesday of my Week 2. 

Holy crap. There I was, a mere month before the talk of my life, mincing around a thermal spa in my robe and mules (that’s the name of posh lounging slippers I discovered!).


Here's a short video recorded on 1st March just 11 days before my TEDx Talk:

My TEDx Talk

Coming soon