The speakers packed the house at Kessler Theatre, with a sold out crowd filling both levels to see the audition.
The judges, all TEDxSMU speakers themselves: Willie Baronet, Grace Gilker, and Byron Sanders entertained in between auditions with a humorous talk show style format of feedback.
First up, speaking for only 6 minutes was hard. An hour would be easier. It forced me to get very clear and very succinct. Every word choice was carefully chosen for impact.
But then the Slide shows started acting up. Flickering, not advancing. The first three auditions went smoothly, including my friend, speaker Cathrine Hatcher with her emotional presentation on roadside memorials.
My audition speech was “The Two words that can change Your Life”, a motivational and thought provoking story of how questioning and asking “WHY NOT” can become a pivot point in your life and move you to a different place. Much like what happened to me, and I related the story of when I walked into the recruiting station, asked to be a Helicopter Pilot and was told “No, You can’t do that”. I pushed back by asking “Why Not” to overcome that obstacle and became a Black Hawk Helicopter Pilot for the US Army.
But during my speech, the 2 slide presentation did not advance and started flickering, getting stuck—I forged on ignoring the slide mishap! Then during the next speech, Sung Kim’s audition about a new intuitive phone design that he had created, the slide deck froze, and despite his being allowed to re-start again, it froze again.
Bill Holston’s informative presentation on Immigration, with a unique take on the benefits to the American economy from immigration, was also marred by the projector issues.
An intermission was called to fix the problem before continuing the auditions with the final 5 presentations. However, the 20 minute intermission interrupted the flow and audience’s assessment of the presentation in an equal assessment.
During the rehearsal, just prior to the doors opening, the projector made the same mistakes! This was not corrected at that time, and could have been. As a meeting planner, it is key to ensure the slide deck and projector interface are responding properly. Test and troubleshoot these problems prior to the event start. Also instead of having to flip between different PowerPoint presentations, create one continuous presentation for each segment of the event.
Ultimately, the audience vote determined two winners our of the 11: Dave Leiber, a Dallas Morning News watchdog columnist presenting “The Power of a Story to Change the World” with humorous anecdotes that had the audience in full belly laugh mode.
And LyAnna Smith, a SMU graduate student, who personally foster cares 2 children and spoke about the foster care system in Texas. These two advance to the TEDxSMU conference on October 19th.
What a learning experience! So many take-aways, it was like an education!
Shorter isn’t always better
Test your AV thoroughly before the event starts
The order in the line up of speakers and presentations—MATTERS!!!
Intermissions interrupt the audience’s thinking and momentum, plan breaks carefully
As a speaker—be able to do your presentation without the powerpoint
Have a master presentation for each segment of your event
What are your take-aways?