Ever since I can remember I have had a fascination with the TED stage.

I have always wondered how the speakers look so calm and confident, say all the right things and deliver such powerful messages. And I visualized some day sharing that stage…

The Universe must have heard me because when Ajit Matthew George invited me to speak at TEDx Wilmington, I couldn’t believe my ears! Really?

Of course, I said “yes”! After all who turns down a TED talk?

What a commitment that was! My life has not been the same since. You see, it’s not just the speech one gives but the entire journey one takes to get to that stage that impacts our life.

For my first TEDx talk I chose a topic I knew my audience could relate to. I wanted people to be inspired, to take action toward creating the life they wanted to live today, not some day.

My message needed to include life-lessons, incidents I had lived thru, personal and poignant, inspiring and interesting, a story of triumph if you will. I knew in order to do so I would have to be vulnerable, and even get uncomfortable at times during my talk.

My talk was titled: Is Your Body Image Holding You Back?

My speech needed structure. There was so much to say in such a short time that there was no room for fluff.

I created an outline dividing my speech into ten parts, one for each minute, each color coded: green for my personal story, orange for my intro and the ending, yellow for the main points, blue for what I wanted my audience to do- their call to action.

I made sure that I could introduce my topic and wow my audience within the first 30 seconds. To do this I had to know my audience, what would impress them and grab their attention right away.

Even though my speech had several sections with different information, it always tied back to my main message. I wanted to make sure my audience would take that message with them after my speech was over. And most importantly, my ending had to be just as strong as the beginning, with a compelling call to action.

Now it was time to practice. As I practiced my talk out loud I heard parts that didn’t make much sense. I went back to the drawing board and edited, re-wrote and edited even more. I made sure to use simple words and inject a conversational tone, just as if I were having a conversation with my best friend.

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It seemed silly at first, speaking to my reflection in the mirror. But I didn’t stop until I was able to come up with a solid draft. Once I had my final script I injected powerful images to convey my message via a simple powerpoint.

Practicing my speech repeatedly helped. I made sure none of the restless, nervous energy I was feeling came thru. I remembered not to make too many gestures nor pace aimlessly, and to use the correct body language to get my point across. I made sure my voice was natural, pleasant, lively and even powerful at certain moments. And at times even to speak in a whisper. I realized from watching so many TED talks, that pauses are very powerful and made sure there were short deliberate pauses between sentences, or when transitioning from idea to action.

At the rehearsal the day before the TEDx event I was clearly nervous. Seeing the venue and the gigantic stage with the huge screens was daunting. Reality sank in. Looking back now I am extremely grateful for the rehearsal day, of the chance to familiarize myself and take it all in, to stand on the circular red carpet and say my speech while looking at the audience from that angle, and to feel how I would be feeling when sharing my message from the stage on the big day.

The question that came up now was what should I wear? I had already planned my wardrobe according to the do’s and the don’ts that so many experts talk about. However after seeing the venue and the color scheme, the stage and lighting, I changed my mind. Why? It’s a long story…. One I would perhaps share with you another day.

Oddly enough I felt pretty calm on the big day. The room was familiar. I knew fellow TEDx speakers were in the audience cheering me on. Backstage, before my name was called, I remembered Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on body language and did some power poses. And I meditated.

I felt confident. Even if I forgot some lines, it didn’t matter because the audience would never know. Most importantly I knew deep in my heart that my idea was worth sharing, and that my message mattered. That if my talk were to touch just one soul in the audience that day I would have accomplished my goal to make a difference in the world.

Needless to say, the talk went really well. The standing ovation at the end was unexpected, but I believe I had earned it…

© Rani St. Pucchi, 2017

Rani St. Pucchi is an award-winning Couture Fashion Designer, a Style & Image Consultant, and a Relationship Expert. She is a Bestselling Author, a Speaker, an Inspirational Coach and a Trainer. Her recent acclaimed TEDx talk: Is Your Body Image Holding You Back is definitely worth watching. Rani’s #1 International Bestselling Books, Your Body, Your Style: Simple Tips on Dressing to Flatter Your Body Type and The SoulMate Checklist : Keys to Finding Your Perfect Partner are now available on Amazon and at Barnes & Nobles.

For more information on Rani please visit www.ranistpucchi.com
Photo Courtesy:Joe del Tufo, Moonloop Photography

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