10 Questions About…

The TED University Talk by Ann Treacy
June 29, 2012, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Edinburgh | Tags:

I’m hoping to write about TED in the next week –mostly so that I have ready access to the notes, but of course anyone is welcome to read them. Lots of people have asked about the TED Talk so I thought I’d start there.

Update Feb 26, 2018: That talk is now online:

Image courtesy of TED Global

I decided earlier this year that I wanted to go to TED Global – so I applied and got in and that was pretty exciting in and of itself. Then they sent out a message inviting people to give talks as part of the TED University. To be a big TED speaker is a *huge* deal. I thought there’d be no way I’d ever be selected to give a TED U talk. (Being a TED U speaker was a tremendous honor – but lest readers get the wrong idea – it’s not like being a planned TED speaker.)Well June 3, approximately three weeks before the conference I got the email (which I read 1000 times) inviting me to be a speaker. I don’t know how many apply; about 12 were selected.

The title of my talk was Ready, Shoot Aim. (Rick B came up with that very good idea!) I had exactly 3 minutes to talk. The TED people could not have been nicer! I wrote several versions of the talk – you know between work and getting ready to get the girls and myself to Dublin. (Patrick left a month earlier.) Then I had an unfortunate situation happen on the way to Dublin – and I trashed the talk I had written and used the incident instead.

The incident: I totally screwed up our flights to Dublin. On Thursday I looked at the tickets thinking the flight was Friday. It was Wednesday. So it was an opportunity to get ready, shoot and aim.

Luckily I spoke on the first day – or I would have missed the whole conference due to worry. All of the TED U speakers gathered at the Lyceum at noon to get a feel for the space. Then we came back around 3:30 for hair and makeup. I went on at 4:40. Before me was a PhD from MIT who had developed a printable microscope. The woman after me spoke about how she is planning to get Alzheimer’s because her dad has it and spoke on the changes she is making in her life in preparation. I was totally out of my league.

I gave the talk. I don’t really remember the experience. I had memorized the talk. Not my favorite way to give a talk. I had no visual aids. I went over my time – in fact I cut our about 20 percent of my talk because I noticed the blinking lights. I thought I’d get comfortable when I was up there. I didn’t. In fact it took about 2 hours and a 20 minute walk back to my hotel to quit shaking. It was totally like going off the high dive – glad I didn’t chicken out, but at that point I wasn’t so sure I was glad I jumped either.

BUT I am glad that I did it. It gave me an opportunity to meet a cohort of sorts off the bat, which was nice. Also, it was a good excuse for people to come up and talk to me. People are really kind. Lots of people said nice things. I got to hear about everyone’s travel mishaps and I found out that librarian is a very popular profession in the TED world – popular as in people liked that – not that there were many librarians. At the conference I spoke with loads of people – but just a handful became friends on any level – and I got to know one set friends because they stopped me and asked about my talk.

The woman who spoke about her Alzheimer’s plan told me that she got to hear all about people’s death stories. In that respect I was glad to have gone lighter. Although her talk was so good, she just may find herself on the big TED website. I will not. Although in about 6 months they will be posting all of the TED U talks on the TED U website.

I still can’t believe I was selected – but I couldn’t be more thankful that I was.

7 Comments so far
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Wow – how cool is that!! Way to go Ann!

Comment by Laurie

You are so brave and courageous and exactly what TED is all about! Going off the high dive, open to new experiences and ways of thinking …. hoping like hell there’s a little water left in the pool when you land. How it went is really secondary. That you dared to do it is extraordinary! Plus, a little free “hair and make up” time? Come on, that’s really cool!


Comment by Jan Hepola

Thanks!! The hair and makeup was funny. I didn’t really get that aspect of it until someone looked at me and said – you’re going to hair and makeup, right? Thought I liked the hair straightened at the time – not so happy with it in the picture.

The best part was that the hair and makeup people talk to you and keep you calm. Also I had to be mic-ed, which involved the sound guy dropping the mic down my shirt, tucking it into my skirt and perfecting it. I told him it was the best cheap thrill of the day!

Comment by Ann Treacy

I’m so happy you had such a great experience at the Ted conference. Also so relieved you made it safely back to Dublin. After reading Jan’s comments, do you think she would want to adopt a sixty something daughter? I’m available.
Love, mom

Comment by Elaine Treacy

Annie your our HERO….. good work … we look forward to a recap on the casbah in August

Comment by jim brooks

Congratulations Ann. I am excited to read about your journey and look forward to seeing your talk.

Comment by mary mathews

Thanks Mary. Apparently it will eventually be made available.

Comment by Ann Treacy

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