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My Experience at TEDxSurrey

Suzanne Venuta

By Suzanne Venuta

Have you ever had that moment when you realize what you are about to get into, is way bigger than you ever imagined?  Your heart races, body trembles, you ask yourself “What have I got myself into?” 

 Well, step back to November of 2021 and that was me. 

I have been in moments such as these before, questioning myself, and the logic of what I am doing, but it’s often while I’ve been backpacking. This, was totally new and uncharted territory for me.

 Back in 2018, I decided I wanted to do a TED talk on the importance of caring connections, and the impact they can have on someone’s life. I had no idea how I was going to do this, where to look or even, how to start. But I knew in my soul this was needed. 

In time, and with the help of others, I found out about TEDxSurrey. I applied as a speaker in 2020, and made it to the audition stage, and I don’t think anyone was more surprised them me. I didn’t make the speakers list for that one, but was determined to apply the following year.

Once again, I made it to the audition stage (still somewhat surprised) and on November 15th, 2021, the list of speakers for that years TEDxSurrey event was sent out by email. I opened it, and was in shock to find out that I had indeed, made it. Needless to say, I did a happy dance around the kitchen and was somewhat surprised at how excited I was, and I couldn’t really focus on anything for a week.  

And yes, I had no idea what I was about to get myself into.  

TEDxSurrey sent us all a “Speakers Toolkit” with all the info we needed, dates for rehearsals, expectations, names of coaches, info on the photo shoot, how to write bios, etc, etc etc. I had no idea it was such a big deal!!!

Five days later the speakers, coaches and support staff, meet. It was a hybrid of in person and via zoom. I was there in person. 

As the other speakers introduced themselves, I’m thinking “Wholly crap, I’m here with doctors, scientists, professional performers, etc.” There was a fleeting moment of “I don’t belong here” and I did feel somewhat intimidated with the expertise in the room. I soon realized I had no need to be. 

We soon became each other’s cheering section and became part of the TEDxSurrey family. 

In the following months, there were multiple group coaching sessions via zoom and in person. We had coaches for opening and closings, stage presence, authenticity, humour, transitions etc, it was unreal. We also each had a personal coach, and I remember thinking to myself “Where else am I ever going to have the opportunity to tap into the expertise of all these folks for the next few months?” and decided I was going to take advantage of this opportunity. 

We had zoom meetings, scripts rewrite after rewrite, and times I wondered once again “What am I doing?” 

An added bonus of having group coaching sessions was the gift of seeing the other speakers become more comfortable, and fine tune their scripts. I could see their improvement, even if I couldn’t see my own. I assumed I must be on the same trajectory as well. 

 I was challenged in ways I never knew I would be, and as someone with a very traumatic childhood, I had an extra layer of challenges with all of this. However, I was supported by everyone. This allowed me to focus on what worked for me, dig deeper to become a better writer, speaker and become more whole as a person. My script became tighter, more succinct, my confidence grew in ways I never imagined. 

When we all met for our final dress rehearsal, I felt something I had never felt before. In time, I realized “this is what confidence feels like.” 

On the big day, as I was about to take my “rightful place” on that Red Rug, I knew “I had this”. I confidently stepped out, and showed the world, the new and improved me, shared a message I am passionate about, and had a blast. 

As I mentioned earlier, I had no idea what I was getting into, and that naivety was probably a good thing. If I had known how big of a deal TEDxSurrey was, and the very high standard of professionalism this organization holds, I likely would not have applied, and that would have been a tragedy. 

I would have missed out on this amazing opportunity to share my message, meet all the wonderful people involved, and come away with gifts that have touched my soul. 

I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to do this, with all the trails, tribulations and occasional hissy fits, that went along with this growth. I feel inspired, fortunate, and honoured to have shared the stage and this journey with the other amazing eleven speakers that day, and all the support and coaching staff.   

I encourage you to watch TEDxSurrey 2022 talks, become inspired, and learn how to make the world a better place. 

About TEDxSurrey

TEDxSurrey is an all-volunteer enterprise presenting some of the finest and most potent ideas for the betterment of our world from our home city of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

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