I have been on this journey for the past four months to compete for one of thirteen spots to do a TED Talk through my day job company. I spent a lot of time figuring out what I would like to talk about. I landed on a topic that means a lot to me. Following are the questions that I was asked to help them get an understanding of my topic and why I felt I was a good fit to share that topic. After that is a link to my introduction video and some highlights of my topic so they could see me on camera.
1. What is your unique idea?
ANSWER: My idea is to provide people a unique set of tools that proactively prepares them to support others who are struggling with life’s hardest moments.
2. What makes your idea new, unique, surprising, or thought-provoking?
ANSWER: Our lives are filled with challenging moments due to our very basic human condition. During these times when we really need it, people may not know how to support someone who is struggling or in crisis. They have not had the opportunity to learn the necessary skills. The situation may make them uncomfortable for one reason or another. Some don’t want to say the wrong thing, concerned they may make things worse. Too many times this is a catalyst for people to walk away; leaving the person who needs support in a secluded or dangerous state.
I want to share some thought provoking strategies and coping methods on how to best support each other during extreme times. Providing a unique set of tools and a level of confidence to help others understand that they have the knowledge required to help anyone before the need arises. Proactively preparing them for before, during and after the crisis.
My idea will help facilitate those difficult or uncomfortable conversations, preserve and strengthen relationships and help people understand from all perspectives the need to connect through life altering moments.
3. What would happen if your idea were implemented? How might it affect others, including those outside of your field?
ANSWER: Picture those around you better prepared to respond to those in their lives – whether family, friend, neighbor, co-worker, or acquaintance. They can have the knowledge and strategies in their emotional toolbox prior to someone struggling or in crisis, instead of reacting in a fight, flight or freeze mode when they are confronted with something intensely emotional in the moment.
More importantly, those that are facing the hardest moments in their lives will have the support they need to maintain a balance throughout the instability these moments brings to anyone’s life.
4. What makes a TED Talk compelling is a speaker’s authentic connection to their topic. Please share a short bio that explains your experience with the proposed topic, and why it is emotionally and intellectually important to you.
ANSWER: There have been three monumentally devastating times in my life where I really needed support from family and friends but it wasn’t there. My father died from suicide when I was only 11 years old. I divorced my first husband after 15 years of marriage, as he was very abusive. Then, eleven years ago, my daughter died from suicide. Each time the same scenario played itself out where family and friends left my life because they didn’t know how to support me. I was alone; struggling to find my balance.
My goal is to provide tools to those in any type of a support position so those struggling don’t have to go through the same challenges that I faced before, during and after the crisis’s I endured.
I joined Toastmasters a few months after my daughter died to learn the nuances of public speaking. I utilized those skills to speak about mental health, suicide, and grief awareness, sharing the fact that speaking up, supporting each other and sharing our stories helps everyone. I volunteer for National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Suicide Prevention, Information, and Awareness (SAVE) on a regular basis to raise awareness, and support others going through challenging struggles.
Supporting each other through the hardest moments of life, which is different for everyone, is a skill that isn’t being passed down from generation to generation effectively. In our new digital world our interactions have become more superficial. In the social media realm, the lives of online friends appear to be sunshine and roses. In reality, due to a fear of judgement or retaliation, the hard topics don’t get discussed leaving people feeling isolated and alone. This is not a loving and caring environment for building true grounded relationships. New skills for this digital world need to be brought forward.
According to NAMI, 19.1% of U.S. adults and 16.5% of teenagers experienced mental illness in 2018; that is 55.3 million people. I believe that by reaching a larger audience with these support strategies to have difficult conversations will, at a minimum, impact these statistics.
5. In one sentence, what is the key takeaway that you want the audience to understand after hearing your talk?
ANSWER: I want each listener to be able to say to themselves “I have the skills to support others in the best way possible during life’s hardest moments; I am building strong relationships so no one has to feel alone, including me.”
My Introduction Video: https://youtu.be/NxRkdHFOfL8
I was not selected as one of the thirteen through my company sadly. They had to select from over 900 submissions. I was very disappointed at first. I, of course, started analyzing why I wasn’t selected. Did they find fault with my topic? Maybe the fault was with me? I started spiraling down the rabbit hole quickly. The good news is that I reached out to others as soon as I got the news. The spiraling stopped after hearing some rationale thoughts. Bonus on having others in my corner.
I am sure that the universe has another way for me to get my topic out into the world. I have already started my brain spinning on some possibilities. I know it’s something a lot of people would be interested in. When the time is right the perfect avenue will present itself.
Until then, I would love your feedback. I have to get back to some other things I have in the fire.