Altruistic but not unrewarding

Saturday was a special day.

A very special one.

The culmination of almost two years of work.

Normally it would have been a year, but Covid complicated things. Although the preparation work was largely done, the start-up had to be postponed.

But there were no more excuses and in the end we made it.

On Saturday we had the launch of the TEDx event in Mallorca. The TEDxArxiduc.

10 great speakers in a morning full of inspiring, motivating, questioning messages.

It takes a great team to produce an event like this. The organisation is a major challenge on many levels.

The TED organisation imposes important quality requirements and a lot of people have to work hard to pull off an event like this. Communication, production, audiovisual, web, sponsorship and graphics teams.

It is also clear that for many of us it was not our first time and experience is a degree.

My experience, my contribution focuses on the public speaking team organised by Claudia Velásquez and together with Bàrbara Servera and Vicente Sarañana. Working one on one with some of the speakers to help them prepare their speeches in the best possible way.

It has been almost two years of work. Listening to the speakers, helping them to clarify their message, reviewing drafts, organising the speech, playing devil’s advocate and finding ways to ensure that there are no loose ends in the stories, that the examples are grounded in concrete cases rather than abstract generalisations.

And all this only through feedback. Listening and giving opinions, because the speech is theirs, the speaker’s speech.

It is not enough to say “I would say” or “you should use”.

You have to find a way to make it a “what do you think if…” or a “do you think it is enough…”.

But let them be the ones to evaluate it and decide if they want to incorporate it. Or not.

And after multiple meetings, revisions of drafts, rehearsals at Zoom and essays in the auditorium, the day arrives.

Every speaker is different. There are those with a lot of experience. There are those who still can’t believe they are explaining their experiences and feelings in front of all those people.

I have to admit that my experience is unique. Not only because I am backstage. On stage, but behind some screens. Three metres away from the speaker, but invisible to the audience. With my finger on the PowerPoint in case he forgets to pass the transparency.

The perspective is also unique because I have already heard most of the talks during essays. Some in different stages of metamorphosis. And I can follow them mentally. Discovering new nuances, unrehearsed words, even seeing concepts I had missed.

But in the end, I can’t deny it, I feel proud. It is voluntary, altruistic work, but not work without reward.

Because when you see that the speaker passes without problems that point where a few days ago, in the rehearsal, he went blank, I can finally let the air out and a smile escapes me. Yes, even with a mask on. It’s a self-smile because I know that, from then on, nothing is going to stop him.

And when at the end of the talk you hear the applause and see the speaker in that red dot debating whether to take a bow or leave.

At that moment you know: Yes, it was worth it.