All the World’s a Stage

“All the world’s a stage,” according to Shakespeare. But “life is not a dress rehearsal,” says author Rose Tremain.

Creating theater for politicians, as I did at my first job on Capitol Hill to setting the stage for TEDx speakers, my latest passion, has been a fun way to learn about journalism.

In between, I got my Master’s in Journalism. I quickly burnt out on police corruption and market moving stories. I took a break to raise two kids – the most challenging yet rewarding job I’ve ever had – and I changed my perspective. So I got involved with TEDx  because I believe TED talks are some of the best journalism out there.

An authentic voice and an idea worth sharing speaks for itself. Make it personal, emotional and relevant, I told Carly Mitchell, the last speaker I worked with. Follow the 10 TED Commandments, a guideline I also used when I substitute taught at The Start Up Institute here in Jackson Hole to help students write their elevator pitch.

  1. Dream big. Strive to create the best talk you have ever given. Reveal something never seen before. Do something the audience will remember forever. Share an idea that could change the world.
  2. Show us the real you. Share your passions, your dreams … and also your fears. Be vulnerable. Speak of failure as well as success.
  3. Make the complex plain. Don’t try to dazzle intellectually. Don’t speak in abstractions. Explain! Give examples. Tell stories. Be specific.
  4. Connect with people’s emotions. Make us laugh! Make us cry!
  5. Don’t flaunt your ego. Don’t boast. It’s the surest way to switch everyone off.
  6. No selling from the stage! Unless we have specifically asked you to, do not talk about your company or organization. And don’t even think about pitching your products or services or asking for funding from stage.
  7. Feel free to comment on other speakers’ talks, to praise or to criticize. Controversy energizes! Enthusiastic endorsement is powerful!
  8. Don’t read your talk. Notes are fine. But if the choice is between reading or rambling, then read!
  9. End your talk on time. Doing otherwise is to steal time from the people that follow you. We won’t allow it.
  10. Rehearse your talk in front of a trusted friend … for timing, for clarity, for impact.
unnamed (3)
unnamed (4) Headstands on the TEDx red carpet

Mitchell, a gender fluid woman who talked about tolerance of her queer community and the gender spectrum at TEDxJacksonHole last month questioned my opinion and sought others’ advice. And I applauded her. She practiced her talk to Republicans and then encouraged her audience to allow boys to play with dolls and have tea parties, “just not the political kind.”

While some of her earlier drafts were obtuse and ostracizing, in the end Carly unified her audience with her brutal honesty and sense humor. I can’t take much credit for that, except for making her go to a yoga class with me.

It was the TEDly messages which raised the bar for Carly and for me. We all want world peace and harmony. The question is, what are we going to do with our one short life to help move in that direction? My TEDly answer is to honor myself, surround myself with people who inspire me and challenge the status quo with the kind of leadership that comes from behind.

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner,” said Nelson Mandela.

Listening to the news, which seems to be hyper focused on gay marriage and Ebola these days, can make us angry and fearful. But the personal nature of TED talks often creates a relationship to current events that is educational, uplifting, and looks for solutions rather than placing blame.

So I choose to go to TED and now TEDx rather than the nightly news, and I think I sleep better at night.

– Julie Kling

You can see Carly Mitchell’s talk, and the other incredible TEDxJacksonHole Imagine speakers here:


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