What does it take to prepare a TEDx talk?

Categories: School of Health and Society

As the week draws to a close, two academics from the School of Health and Society and the School of Science, Engineering and Environment will be gearing up to present their very own TEDx talks on Saturday.

Dr Clarke-Cornwell and Professor Miah

Dr Alex Clarke-Cornwell, Lecturer in Public Health and Professor Andy Miah, Chair in Science Communication and Future Media reveal how they’ve been preparing for the big day.

For Dr Clarke-Cornwell, giving a TEDx talk is a dream come true. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but I never imagined I’d actually do it,” she says. When she was contacted by her previous cohort of MSc Public Health students, who are organising the event, she jumped at the chance to present.

Dr Clarke-Cornwell will be talking about the physical behaviour of office workers, comparing their movements from pre-pandemic times to the first lockdown. She will explore how these changes can impact people’s health, mental wellbeing and work productivity.  

She hopes that her talk will provide some food for thought for both employers and employees.

Meanwhile, this will be Professor Miah’s third TEDx talk. He’ll be discussing the world of esports, the rise of competitive gaming and its economic impacts. 

“If you’re working in the creative sector, you need to understand the world of esports. Whether or not you like computer games, it’s something to notice and is an important transformation in our society,” he says.

Professor Miah has found the more talks he’s delivered, the more he can enjoy it and focus on discovering new ideas. For him, public speaking has become a creative experience.

“It’s a nice place to get to as a speaker where you worry less about the task and just enjoy the experience of talking about ideas. Hopefully the audience can experience that process of creativity via my thought journey.”

He also finds recording a rehearsal and watching it back to be a useful process. It allows him to reflect on what works best and what can be improved on.

Similarly, Dr Clarke-Cornwell has been preparing by watching more TEDx talks online, as well as reading the most up-to-date literature surrounding her research. She likes to compare her research to others and build up a general consensus.

“Presenting for TEDx is different to presenting at a conference – it’s a lot more conversational, so I’ve been familiarising myself more with its style.”

With the event being held virtually, one challenge the academics are facing is the lack of a physical audience. Both Dr Clarke-Cornwell and Professor Miah like to engage with their audiences, so this talk will be a bit different for them.

Dr Clarke-Cornwell hopes that her passion for research will still come across.

“I’m excited for the talk, but also a bit nervous. It’s important to have some nerves, especially if you’re presenting to an audience and you can’t see them!”

While giving talks, Professor Miah usually imagines he is speaking to specific people in the audience, which helps him to be more in touch with the audience’s understanding. This will be more difficult to do virtually, but this technique helps him to be more engaging.

He also agrees that nerves can be a good thing, especially if they’re channelled properly.

“Decide you are going to enjoy the talk, especially when you’re nervous about it. Telling yourself it’s going to be fun will then have an impact on how you are as a speaker.”

To see Dr Clarke-Cornwell and Professor Miah in action, get your free TEDx University of Salford ticket

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