Monday, 26 August 2013

So what's a volunteer doing on the TEDx stage?

I believe it was sometime in June that I was invited to be a speaker at a TEDx event on the topic of volunteering. TED stands for Technology, Entrepreneurship and Design -- I know this much, so I really wasn't sure whether to accept the invitation because I didn't see how volunteering would fit into any of the conventional categories of TED talks. But the organisers managed to persuade me that it would be good for the causes I champion and could encourage other young professionals to volunteer. Since it wasn't particularly inconvenient for me and since I am no stranger to public speaking, I decided to accept the invitation.

In my usual style, I went about creating slides and making notes about the benefits and advantages of volunteering, how best to commence volunteering and how to research causes to volunteer for, pretty much at the last minute, since I was swamped, as always, with office work, volunteering and taking care of the Rowdies. It was only when the organisers e-mailed me again to request a copy of my slides that I was told it wasn't what they wanted at all. They had wanted to me talk about my own experiences as a volunteer, how I got started volunteering, lessons I learned along the way, and where I see myself headed as a volunteer.

Lord have mercy.
You could have told me that 2 weeks ago.

And so with 2 days to go until the day of the talk, I altered my slides, threw my prepared notes out the window and decided to speak impromptu, using my new slides and pictures to prompt me.

There were some technical glitches on the day itself but I was otherwise quite satisfied with how the talk went. One or two of the other speakers had their family members in the audience. I found it incredible. CovertMum and CovertDad were probably under the impression that I was either attending my postgrad classes or volunteering at the SPCA as usual on that particular day. I didn't think the talk was important enough to tell them about it. Aravind did come with me to provide moral support, prevent me from getting lost on my way to the university, stop me from playing WordMole and Advanced Sudoku on my phone and take fuzzy photos with my lousy compact camera.

The official event banner.
Reproduced from without permission but in accordance with the principles of fair use.

Getting ready behind the stage.

I look like I am leading an invisible dog out on an invisible leash, but really I am clicking a computer mouse in my hand to switch slides.

Oh well, perhaps it's just as well that the photos are blurry enough to hide my zits and double chin. Sigh.

Speakers, organisers and audience all on stage now.
The lady on my left is Wivina Belmonte of UNICEF, formerly of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Big props to her -- no powerpoint slides, no goofy school / childhood photos of herself, no unilateral declarations of her own awesomeness, yet her speech was the most powerful one of all. She is an amazing person with a huge heart. I hope to be more like her one day -- both as a person and as a speaker.

I decided to ask for one of the buntings of myself as a souvenir. Wish someone had edited the write-up for grammar and coherence, though.

The TEDx Talks organising committee finally uploaded the official YouTube video sometime last week. I think I sound a little loud and a little anxious because I am not used to being video-recorded live while I am talking.

I am not sure whether my talk would have a positive impact on anyone, or whether it would be watched at all, but I do hope to continue taking direct action to make a difference in our community, country and Planet for as long as I am able. Change doesn't happen just because one talks about it. Change happens when one commits to it, and hustles for it. So let's continue sticking our necks out and hustling for a better society and world.


Unknown said...

Ee Lynn,you were an excellent choice to speak on volunteering. Selfless in many ways,and committed ++. Kudos!Volunteering is for anyone;just find your niche.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thank you so much for your vote of confidence, Keats! Really grateful.