On Saturday, I had the honor of being part of the inaugural TEDx Fort Wayne event. My presentation, “Accessibility: Fort Wayne’s Competitive Advantage,” focused on why I have chosen to stay here after moving from the greater Boston area–and how accessibility to time, money and people presents Fort Wayne with a great story to tell from a talent retention and economic development standpoint.
Thanks to Craig Crook and his team of volunteers, it was a tremendous experience for me as a presenter. It was also a great learning experience, with lessons that will stay with me for a long time, including:
1. Preparing for an 18 minute presentation is, in some respects, harder than preparing for a 60 minute presentation. There’s less wiggle room, and every word matters.
2. 18 minutes is enough. Did I say everything I could have possibly said about how accessibility is Fort Wayne’s best story, and its greatest competitive advantage? No. But I said enough to start the conversation without going on so long that the audience lost interest (or at least I hope not).
3. Whenever possible, go first. I didn’t plan on being the first (live) presenter at TEDx Fort Wayne, but it worked out great for me. I was able to exhale and enjoy the other speakers–enough to know that some of them would have been tremendously hard to follow.
4. Fort Wayne has some incredible talent. Not so much something I learned as something that was reinforced, but it was amazing to see it all come together at one event.
5. A clicker is better. I usually don’t use a remote clicker when I present, unless the venue provides one. I’ve just been too lazy/cheap to buy one, I guess. What I realized Saturday is how much worse it is to advance slides via your keyboard. Doing so locks you to your laptop and prevents you from truly being with the audience. That makes it less likely you’ll have their full attention. So, I’m buying one of these.
6. Craig Crook is a force of nature. This was a big event, with a lot of parts and pieces to coordinate. Craig and his team pulled it off beyond everyone’s expectations. Phenomenal.
7. Ideas beget ideas. One of the best things about Saturday’s event was that the idea sharing went well beyond the presentations. It seemed like everyone in attendance was inspired to think big.
8. It’s very likely I have ADHD. And, thanks to Rebecca Hession, I now know that’s not bad–just different.
9. Say yes, whenever you can. I almost had to say no to being part of TEDx Fort Wayne. I’m trying to get better about not spreading myself too thin, so giving up a Saturday morning in May seemed like an imposition. I also wasn’t sure my background aligned with the “social and sustainable innovation” theme. But when all was said and done, I couldn’t say no to a TEDx event. I ended up compromising, spending the first half of the day at TEDx Fort Wayne, and then getting home in time to see my wife and my son and get some things done around the house. I wish I could have stayed for the afternoon, but I’m REALLY glad I didn’t miss the whole thing.
Thanks to all the volunteers who made it happen, to the audience for being so gracious, and to the other speakers for setting the bar high. There’s no doubt that on Saturday, everyone learned that Fort Wayne has “ideas worth spreading.”