In May 2018, I had the great pleasure of being a speaker at TEDx Chula Vista, in Southern California.
I say it was a great pleasure, and it mostly was. The audience were fabulously warm and welcoming. They laughed in all the right places and none of the wrong ones. They were incredibly patient when I forgot my words, resulting in a long pause which the editors thankfully removed from the video. I’m not sure if they picked up on the irony of my forgetting my lines during a talk about how language learning offsets dementia. If they did, they were very polite about it.
It was also a great pleasure to be among such august company. My fellow TEDx speakers were magnificent and I formed some lasting friendships. These included community artist Mr Maxx Moses and opera singer Malesha Jessie Taylor.
The less pleasant part was the memorisation (see above). It had been a very long time since I last had to speak at length from memory and I found it very difficult. It is unusual for me to work from a script, but that is something that is strongly recommended in the TED format, with its very tight timing and a polished style which avoids hesitation. I had finalised the script a few weeks before, and had been confident that I had plenty of time to commit it to memory and get in lots of practice. Then my dad fell seriously ill and I had to fly back to the UK. He subsequently died and I found myself juggling the task of line learning with funeral arrangements and helping my step mother. I spent the flight home listening to a recording of the talk, with the TEDx event itself just days after my return.
Several audience members said that my talk had inspired them to either learn a new language or revive an old one, which means that I fulfilled my goal.