My take on TED


I gave my second TED talk yesterday, this time at TEDWomen in San Francisco. I shared my story of running for President of Iceland. I had hoped it would be easier to get on the TED stage for the second time, but it turned out to be every bit as challenging as in 2010, possibly even harder.

How come someone can run for President yet still get incredibly nervous before giving a TED talk? Is it because of the cameras and people watching in 275 locations around the world? Is it because your talk may be made available on and be watched by even more people, anywhere, anytime?

I have been reflecting on the fact that nearly every speaker I have met at TED shares the “secret” that they find the whole experience incredibly challenging. I have come to conclude that the challenge is not so much the cameras and all the people watching but rather the fact that at TED, we bare our stories and souls like we never do, at least not publicly. And this is what makes a TED conference unlike any other and a very special experience for both speakers and participants.

I spoke in the last session of the conference. This meant that I enjoyed two days listening to other speakers. Their stories moved me emotionally, made me laugh, cry and experience feelings ranging from anger to profound love. Many stories altered my worldview and some shook me to my core, so much that it will take a while to process them. No words adequately describe the emotional journey one goes on while receiving the gifts of those stories in the company of an equally gifted audience. I am incredibly grateful and humbled to be included in their company.

When I first spoke at TED in 2010, I forgot everything I was going to say when I got onto the stage. I was saved by Sally Field, who I knew at the time as Nora, the all-loving mother in Brothers & Sisters. I managed to find her beautiful brown eyes and warm smile in the audience and I just told her my story. This time I forgot most of the things I wanted to say, but was saved by so many friendly faces in the audience whose warmth and support before, during and after my talk blew me away.

The TED experience may not be easy, nor was running for President, but I can wholeheartedly say that both experiences are more than worth it.