Wednesday, June 12, 2013

TEDMED editor Lisa Shufro on fear and the first-time speaker

Lisa Shufro on the TEDMED stage
In a Huffington Post essay, TEDMED managing editor Lisa Shufro shares an insight into fear and the first-time speaker -- and while it may seem to be a story about magician David Blaine and how he prepared for a TEDMED talk, it's about Shufro, too. That's because she and Blaine belong to a small but amazing club: They both gave their first-ever public talks from the stage of TEDMED.

Full disclosure: Shufro is a longtime reader of The Eloquent Woman and my client, since I coach TEDMED speakers, thanks to her. She leads the editorial team that finds, selects and preps TEDMED speakers, who range from celebrities to unknowns, patients as well as physicians, scientists and policymakers. But to my mind, her biggest accomplishment was her first speaking gig on a stage where the stakes were high:
Two years later I gave my first talk in public from the stage of the Kennedy Center Opera House. In front of two hundred thousand people. Many of them were accomplished doctors and scientists. I was now the Managing Editor of TEDMED -- without a formal degree in science or medicine. As a musician, I'd been on stage thousands of times. But never without a violin between the audience and me. Right before going on stage, my words drained from my mind. I started holding my breath.
If you're a first-time or would-be speaker--or just remember the first speech you ever gave--you'll love this essay. Shufro writes it in the manner of a good TED talk: It's personal, and follows a path from one first-time speaker to another. She uses a visual you can picture in your mind's eye, a playing card on which Blaine had written a note for his talk, which he gave her once his talk was done;  later, she took that card onstage when her turn came to speak. Lovely symmetry there. This is a story full of small, intimate moments, juxtaposed against the looming, large stage they shared. And for speakers, it's a good discussion of risk and fear and how they come into play during preparation and that moment when you step on the stage. I'm so delighted Shufro has shared this story with us.

(TEDMED photo)

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