Heather Hinam on Speaking at TEDxWinnipeg

“You could totally do this,” my friend enthused on the Facebook post she’d tagged me in. As I stared at the speaker’s application for TEDxWinnipeg, all I could think was, ‘she’s nuts’. I’d been lucky enough to have been in the audience for this amazing event two years in a row, and I remembered how together and professional all the speakers had seemed. I wasn’t a stranger to public speaking — I had spent years as a nature interpreter and teaching university students. I just couldn’t imagine myself on that stage, with the red TEDx backdrop, in front of people who wanted to hear my very own idea.

Then, gradually, I did start imagining it. You see, I actually did have an idea that I thought was worth spreading. I wanted to reconnect people with our natural world.

I spent a few nights scribbling out notes, trying to distill my thoughts down into one, actionable idea. That done, I filled out the form, held my breath… and hit ‘send.’

The day I found out I’d been chosen to speak felt like winning the lottery. I was excited, but also extremely nervous. It wasn’t even the idea of the getting up on that stage that scared me. My past life as a musician had made me used to performing for an audience, and I knew regular rehearsals were part of the deal. It was that notion of standing in a small room in front of just a handful of people I barely knew with nothing but my idea and my words. I hadn’t felt that vulnerable in years.

As it turns out, despite my initial fear of rehearsals, they ended up being some of the moments I remember most fondly from my TEDx experience. Working with my coach, with the Speakers Committee members, and with all of my fellow speakers was not only very valuable for my personal development, but also a lot of fun!

TEDxWinnipeg runs like a well-oiled machine, thanks to a small army of dedicated and very talented volunteers. Everyone is truly committed to helping you deliver the best talk of your life, and they work hard to help you get there. It’s not just man-hours they put into the event, but the emotional investment they put into their speakers in a collaborative and supportive environment. The more you invest of your energy and support your fellow speakers and volunteers, the more rewarding your experience will be.

By the time it was my turn to hook up the microphone and walk out onto the stage, I knew I had a small, ragtag family cheering me on and ready to catch me when I came down off the high. Those connections, those people who check in on social media, who meet up for coffee, or join me for walks in the woods are what I cherish the most from my TEDxWinnipeg experience. They are the reason you will always find me ready to help out when the next one comes around each year.

I look forward to seeing you all in June!

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