Marina Michelle McCoy: My TEDx experience in South Lake Tahoe (opinion)
Tribune Guest Columnist
“Was I ready for this? Was this too soon? Do I have enough experience to be credible to speak?” These were the thoughts that hunted me the weeks leading up to the TEDx South Lake Tahoe event, which happened Oct. 5. Instead of using them to scare me away from giving my speech, I used them to inspire my speech. I read countless TED talk books, watched even more TED talks on YouTube, made sure my facts were credible, and practiced, practiced, practiced. Whether it was practicing by myself, in front of my friends, or with Robin DeSorta, the organizer of the event, I made sure to set time aside to practice every day. But all the practice in the world couldn’t shake the nerves that came along with speaking about your passion in front of hundreds of people.
“Deep breaths, deep breaths, deep breaths,” was what I repeated to myself the whole day leading up to my TEDx speech. The day before, I found out that I would be speaking second to last. Meaning, I got to sit in my chair, heart thumping like a rabbit’s foot, hands clammy as a hot summers’ humid day, until it was my turn to go up on that stage. As a recent college graduate from Sierra Nevada College, May 2016, this was my first big public speaking experience outside of a classroom.
As the first couple speakers went on stage, my nerves were still high, but after a few more speakers, my nerves started to ease. How come? Because of the audience.
The crowd was incredibly welcoming, kind and attentive. They weren’t looking at their phones. They weren’t fidgeting. They weren’t distracting. They cared about the speakers. They wanted us to do the best we possibly could, and how they could help with that, was giving their full attention, listening to the ideas we had to share.
“Next up, we have Marina McCoy,” Robin announced to the crowd.
Oh boy … Here we go…
As my heart still thumbed through my chest, I took one last deep breath, shook the nerves off and walked out onto the iconic TED red circled carpet.
I looked up, saw my best friend out in the audience, right in the middle of the seated crowded and assured myself that everything was going to be OK, and began my slides.
The first couple of lines, I could feel the nervousness in my voice, but as I continued to talk, I didn’t notice it anymore. I looked into the crowded and saw almost everyone drawn into my presentation; I grew more and more comfortable on stage.
Then I didn’t see the crowd anymore; all I saw were the lights, and then myself giving the presentation. Next thing I knew, people were clapping and cheering, it was over. Did I not mention all my points? Where did the time go? Did I mess up? What seemed like only three minutes onstage was actually over 13 minutes.
I have never had such an out-of-body experience before. I somehow managed to continue to give my talk, as I blacked out inside of my head. Was this the nerves taking over? Or was it all the practice taking over?
I knew my lines. I knew my points. I knew my slides. But the nerves were still there regardless. Was this the way my body reacted so I wouldn’t let the nerves get the best of me? If it was, I am forever thankful for it. I had successfully completed one of my biggest fears — public speaking. Now it was time to relax and get my heartbeat back to a normal pace.
I. Did. It.
After the event, we were able to socialize with the crowd and fellow speakers. It was great being able to interact with the crowd afterwards and hear about their reactions, comments and thoughts on all the ideas that were presented on that night. They showed great interest in making a change in their daily lives to reach these new goals that will help strengthen and bring together our community.
If you have an idea that you feel is worth sharing (and I bet it is), don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Because when you are passionate about something, it shines through your nerves, and you can inspire others to do the same. Imagine if we all started to follow our true passions more, imagine the type of impact that world have on our communities, our world and ourselves.
Being able to speak on TEDx about my passion for the environment and raising the standards of sustainability at special events, mainly music festivals, was a dream come true for me. It’s something I have been aspiring to accomplishment since I watched my first TED Talk years ago.
All of the speakers came from different backgrounds, but we all shared the same idea; that we were passionate about something and we can make a difference if we work hard enough. It was a great honor to share this experience with so many other incredible individuals.
I would like to give a special thanks to everyone who helped put on the TEDx event, from the organizers of the event, the crew at The Loft, the attendees and fellow speakers, we all made this an reality.
Keep your eyes open for the 2017 TEDx event in South Lake Tahoe! It’s a transformational experience you do not want to miss.
Marina McCoy is the founder of Waste-Free Earth, where they are dedicated to making the festival industry known for being a global contributor to environmental sustainability. She is based out of North Tahoe, but lives out of her van full time to spread the message of waste-free living across the country.