TED is to public speaking what Mount Everest is to mountain climbers – even if you’ve never spoken in front of a crowd or put on a crampon, you still recognize the name.
In August I was selected to be a speaker at TEDxTinHau Countdown, a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis.
Bringing together scientists, activists, entrepreneurs, urban planners, farmers, CEOs, investors, artists, and others to find the most effective, evidence-based ideas out there, the Countdown goal is to identify the bold solutions that can be activated when people break out of their silos and rise to the challenge.
Countdown seeks to answer five fundamental, interconnected questions that help inform a blueprint for a cleaner future. Hong Kong’s TEDxTinHau Countdown not only had the courage to host an in-person public event during a pandemic, they also fully embraced the spirit of the event and curated a delightfully eclectic speaker line-up.
Five fundamental forces
The five areas of focus are Materials, Energy, Food, Transport and Nature. I addressed Materials and fully embraced the opportunity to talk about our relationship with fashion, plastics and ourselves, there is no addressing one without the others, from my experience. We can talk about materials and innovation forever, but we must understand the connection between how these materials manifest in the first place – in our minds. We are where these materials begin and end.
Sustainable fashion is a powerful way to shift our everyday actions into meaning, and I would love to put secondhand fashion in the front row when it comes to the future of fashion.
TEDxTinHau Countdown took to the skies with engineer Ollie Haas talking about his soul challenging love of airplanes and commitment to sustainability. Plant based super chef Peggy Chan addressed food literacy, and how we are either restoring or destroying our ecosystem. Lance Lau, Hong Kong’s answer to Greta Thunberg, and social entrepreneur Keilem Ng, share heart-warming experiences about the challenges of getting the public to engage on the topic of climate change. And historical and marine ecologist Jonathan Cybulski invites us to tap into the mindset of an athlete training for the climate Olympics. There may, or may not, be burpees involved.
From the excitement of being selected as a speaker, to the panic of understanding what that entails was a quick hop and a skip. I was overwhelmed and a little petrified. From that moment on it felt like I was on planet TEDx. And it felt like others around me were too. Case in point, when I told my doctor what I was preparing for, she too had given a TEDx talk on biomarkers for optimal health. “I spend a year preparing” she shared. Another contact shared that her TEDx talk was “the scariest thing I have ever done”. For the next two months I would talk about the weather, and not much else, I decided for my mental health.
Embrace the tools
I also quickly decided to best prepare myself from the start and here’s the great news – today there are so many tools out there to help you. Here are a few that resonated with me:
I believe that understanding our minds is the gateway to a more fulfilling life. Having completed the first level of hypnotherapy training, I value the power it has for quick shifts. I listened to Marisa Peer’s hypnotherapy recording on public speaking on a regular basis to get the subconscious aligned for the task on hand.
Before preparing for Countdown I had only heard about Tapping, but when my discerning sister recommended it to me, I gave it a shot. And what a good shot that was! A combination of Ancient Chinese Acupressure and Modern Psychology, tapping is a wonderful way to physically alter your energy system, brain, and body all at once. Using your fingertips to gently tap on specific meridian points, you repeat phrases to address a very wide range of emotions. I used The Tapping Solution and found it very effective and, unexpectedly enjoyable too.
There is no talking climate change without talking consciousness shift. Not to get all woo woo about things, but that is where the power resides. I have long been a fan of Insight Timer, I love the variety and recently signed up for the courses too. I am getting a lot of value from that, in particular working on issues of Imposter Syndrome – which is to public speaking what a rapper is to a Kardashian. In particular the course on Overcoming Imposter Syndrome by Dr. Adia Gooden resonated. Another course on environmentalism and leadership brought great insight – Understanding Power, Self-Mastery & The Key To Wise Action by Nolitha Tsengiwe.
The Power of People
Of course all of this would be a moot point in the absence of people who eat challenges for breakfast. TedxTinHau Women saw all the challenges of the 2020 pandemic and said that Countdown was important enough for a team of committed Hong Kong residents to juggle demanding careers, busy family life, and volunteer their time and energy to getting this off the ground.
From behind the scenes making sure government regulations are being respected, to technical demands of hosting a global event of this nature, to capturing it all on stills, thanks to my creative partner, Alex Macro, to the sponsors and, most importantly the good energy and kindness of the TEDXTinHau team, in the words of author Glennon Doyle: we can do hard things.