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Lessons from TEDx – it’s not all about you

Richard Wasson TEDx

Firstly I’d like to say I have the upmost respect for anyone who stands up to speak in front of a group of people.   If you’re nervous about speaking, I completely understand.

The reason I know what you’re going through is because in 2014 I got invited to give a TEDx talk in the great hall in Stormont, in front of 200 or so people and a film crew. It was to be filmed and put online forever.

Scary is not the word – even the great hall itself invokes nerves due to it’s grandeur and history.

In my preparation for my TEDxStormont talk, I learnt quite a few things that have helped me up my public speaking game.

Key learning number one- ‘it’s not all about you’

In the weeks after receiving the invite, any time I thought of the talk I would get obsessed with negative thinking all about myself. Things like:

  • “What if I trip and fall on my face?”
  • “What if I stutter and stammer and sound like an idiot?”
  • “What if they don’t get what I’m talking about?”

I even started thinking what would happen if I went on stage with my fly down!

I then met with a very wise speaker and he pointed out that this talk is not about me at all. He wisely informed me that a speech is about the audience, not about the speaker. He asked me:

  • “What are you giving your audience?”
  • “How will they benefit from listening to you?”

He then politely informed me I was getting very self-centred and to focus on the audience’s needs, not my own. He was right.

This really resonated and I took it a step further by writing a profile of a person who I felt would benefit from hearing my talk. I then crafted the talk to speak to that person directly. It obviously worked as only minutes after coming off stage someone came up to me and thanked me and said it was exactly what they needed. That person fitted exactly the profile I had drawn up.

So here are some questions to help you with crafting your speech:

  •  Who are the key people you are talking to?
  • What are their needs and desires and how can you talk directly to them?
  • How will they benefit from listening?

This advice has helped to keep me on track when I’ve been asked to speak, I hope it will help you too!


Richard Wasson

Richard Wasson has sailed the world on exploration superyachts. He has many stories to tell from his years as captain and chief officer to the very rich and the very famous! Now officially retired from sea, his quest to help people be happier in their life and careers is ongoing. Watch Richard’s TEDx talk here.

“This post is the first in a series of three posts, where I share just some of the things I learnt from my TEDx experience. You can read the others here and here.