Cambridge trio takes on TEDx

(Left to right) Franny McInnes, Thomas Nabbs and Jacqui Barrett are speaking at next month’s TedxRuakura talk.

Cambridge is punching above its weight at next month’s TEDxRuakura talk in Hamilton, with locals making up 30 per cent of the speakers.

Thomas Nabbs, Jacqui Barrett and Franny McInnes will be taking to the stage at the prestigious event along with seven other speakers, part of a global series of inspirational talks that have become a worldwide online hit.

Each will be speaking for around 15 minutes, “but we can’t really talk about what we’re talking about”, laughed Jacqui. Given the line-up, however, it’s bound to be inspiring.

Cambridge-raised Thomas is the founder of The Waterboy, a charity that aims to remove barriers to participation in sport, while Franny’s business, Breastmates, is the quintessential Kiwi “started in a garage” story. For her part, Jacqui is an author who works with those with limiting self-beliefs, teaching them how to unblock what doesn’t serve them, becoming “manifesting machines” and living a happy life.

The trio found out at the start of March they would be part of the line-up for the September 2 event at Waikato University, and the hard work has been ongoing since then.

Nominated through Facebook or spotted by event organisers, there were around 50 applications, narrowed down to a shortlist by three speech coaches who would be working with the final speakers. From there, the shortlisted candidates had to submit a one-minute video “pitch” and the final line up was decided.

The speakers then set to work with the coaches, spending countless hours working on their presentations. The event’s licence holder, Quentin Weber, said that there is much more to delivering a TED talk than people may realise. “It’s not just a talk, it’s a presentation, it’s a performance,” he explained. “From their presentation right down to their voice…we go through all of that sort of stuff so they’re so well-prepared they don’t have to think about the content of their talk, they just perform it,” Quentin said. “People are still emailing one month out from the event, asking to come and talk…but these guys have been going for the past six months,” he added.

Franny, Thomas and Jacqui all said they have gained a tremendous amount from their participation.

Franny said it has made her more aware of future opportunities and angles she can develop, “and I realise that I do have the ability and confidence to stand up on stage and hold people’s attention”.

Jacqui said her TEDx journey has taken her from perfecting the art of speaking in public to “embracing feedback and being vulnerable for people commenting, allowing it to happen and embracing that”. As for Thomas, he said that he has learned how long it takes for him to memorise things and learning about his presentation style and the way he writes. “There’s so much ‘cannon fodder’ in there…I write far too many words,” he laughed.

And all agreed that being around the other speakers and hearing their stories has been “mind blowing”.

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