This post was authored by Paul Johnson
The following is a guest blog post from TCI EXPO 2012 speaker Paul Johnson. This November, the world's largest tree care industry trade show and conference is heading to Baltimore - We hope to see you there! Learn more about the show and Paul's education session, at expo.tcia.org.
I’ve done quite a bit of public speaking… ISA’s 2012 Conference, two SMA Conferences, and Partner’s in Community Forestry for example.
Last Saturday was an amazing and unique experience. I spoke at TEDx San Antonio.
“TED (ted.com) is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader.” TED talks are no more than 18 minutes in length and many are even shorter than that. TEDx events are locally organized events to spread ideas and stimulate conversation.
I attended TEDx San Antonio 2011 and was impressed with the quality of the event, the speakers, and the audience. I set my goal for 2012 to make it onto the stage at TEDx San Antonio 2012. I attended the mixers and networking events, developed a concept, crafted my application, and submitted it before the June 1st deadline. Late July I received an email asking if I had a video I could submit so the committee could see my style and delivery. My video experience is limited and I didn’t have anything ready to go, but I wasn’t about to let that get in the way of my goal. I dug out the old video camera and tripod, drafted a ‘pitch’ script for my idea, and started shooting video… and shooting video. It was too dark inside the house, it was too noisy outside, and I wanted it to be just right. Many takes later, I was satisfied and overcame a few technical glitches and was able to email my video, view it here.
August 14th I received an email asking me to call the program committee chairperson… I made the cut, I get to talk at TEDx San Antonio and I will be one of 22 talks and performances.
The catch is that they want my talk to be no more than 6 minutes. Of course I said yes; then I started worrying if I could really say what I wanted to say in 6 minutes… I have given 15-20 minute talks, 60-90 minute talks, I have even given 4 hour talks, but 6 minutes is so little time and how I could stand out from a crowd of 22. We had our first speakers meeting to discuss how the event would work, the promotion schedule, and we met our curator. My curator was Jennifer from a local architecture firm. The curator could also be called the handler or wrangler because they were responsible to making sure we understood the process, met our deadlines, and that we were where we needed to be. The difference between curator and wrangler is that Jennifer met with me and helped me focus my concept and improve the delivery. Jennifer isn’t an expert on trees or an expert on public speaking, but she is interested, thoughtful, and wants to help. We worked together and she helped me decide to include a couple of things that I had edited out due to the short time. This included Tree Tai Chi… What is tree tai chi? Come to the Power of Public Speaking at TCI EXPO in Baltimore.
I have reached two conclusions from this amazing experience -
- Step outside your comfort zone. Look for a TEDx event near you or apply to speak at a conference, workshop, or other event. Think about the audiences you wish knew more about trees and proper tree care such as architects, builders, and real estate agents. Find them and figure out how to get on their agenda.
- Collaborate with someone. Find that person that wants to help you and let them. It’s like finding someone that is willing to show you a new knot or SRT technique that you have read about, but don’t feel quite comfortable trying just from the pictures in the book.
This post was authored by Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson is the Texas Forest Service Regional Urban Forester for the San Antonio/Alamo Region. Paul is an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Board Certified Master Arborist and Municipal Specialist. He is a member of the ISA Board of Directors, coordinator of San Antonio Arborist Association, is Texas liaison for Society of Municipal Arborists, and a member of ISA's Educational Goods and Services and Certification Test Committees. He graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in Forestry and has been a radio talk show host, newspaper columnist, Extension horticulturist, University adjunct instructor, and plant health care specialist.