Interview with a Speaker – Carole Fossey
In December 2019, I organised the TEDxAinleyTopWomen event in Huddersfield. The day was a huge success and 19 amazing speakers gave their first-ever TEDx talk. The audience were wowed, the speakers were phenomenal, and the organiser went home exhausted but very happy.
So, who were they – the intrepid 19? And why did they put themselves through the process? I interviewed all of them, to give you a behind the scenes look at the whole process. Perhaps you might want to get involved in a TEDx in the future. These interviews will shed light on what it takes, why you might want to do it, and who you need to be, to be a TEDx speaker.
So, we are going to start this week with Carole Fossey, Founder of Strategy Social Media and Leading Women in Business, Author, Speaker and Business Coach. Carole is also Mum to 2 – Phoebe 20, and Guillaume 17.
“Carole, why did you want to do a TEDx talk and was there anything that might have stopped you applying?”
Well, Cheryl, I was excited by the opportunity. One of my favourite things to do is speak from stage. However, I normally speak about my business and TEDx is all about an idea worth sharing. I was concerned that with an exceptionally busy schedule in November and December, I wouldn’t have time to create a TEDx worthy talk.
However, I have always believed in Richard Branson’s philosophy – that when an opportunity presents itself, say yes, and figure it out later! And so I said yes! And then figured it out!
“What was the title of your talk and why is that subject important to you? Why was it something you wanted to share?”
My talk was ‘The Secret of Living (and Social Media) is giving’. This is a subject very close to my heart and not just because I run a social media company. The title and the first 2/3rd’s of the talk are actually a slight misdirect. You’ll have to watch the talk if you want to know the real secret of living!! But suffice it to say – there is a big problem in the country right now with depression and suicide, especially in the young, and a general dissatisfaction with life in many more.
Much of that is caused by social media, by this ‘ever on’ world, and by the expectations that creates. With six members of my family having suffered from mental health issues, resulting in medication, sectioning and suicide attempts, anything anyone can do to help is something I support. And if my talk helps even 1 person reframe something that makes them frustrated, depressed, angry or sad, then it was worth all the effort and more.
“What happened when you submitted your video for approval?”
I wasn’t sure about what I had submitted. It didn’t follow my usual format and it wasn’t – as I mentioned earlier – what I normally speak about. I wasn’t sure it was good enough to get past the strict TEDx criteria.
Cheryl’s feedback was very positive. She reassured me that my 2 misdirects in the talk worked, and that the whole thing flowed. That gave me the reassurance I needed that I was on the right lines. She also suggested a couple of tweaks that were extremely helpful.
Cheryl is really good at seeing what is missing. She coaches many people experienced and not, on public speaking, and has helped me in the past with my personal story. One of the suggestions Cheryl made was very subtle but very powerful. Sometimes, you are just too close to your own stuff to see those gaps.
“How did you feel on the run-up to the event and on the day itself?”
During the run-up to the event, Cheryl used various forms of communication to keep all the speakers informed of key things they needed to know. She also encouraged, cheerlead, and built up the confidence of the group, and also built up the excitement and the team spirit which meant everyone was supporting everyone else. No-one felt alone. No-one felt any less important than anyone else. We were all an integral part of the TEDx AinleyTopWomen.
On the day itself, everything ran incredibly smoothly. Considering this was a “first” event, nothing went wrong. At least nothing that I noticed. Cheryl supported all the speakers. There were people coming in and out of makeup. Everyone knew exactly what was happening and when. The hall itself looked incredible, and there was a real buzz in the room.
On a personal level, I woke up the day before the event with a humdinger of a cold. I rarely get ill but when I do – it usually takes me out! I wasn’t sure I could get out of bed let alone close the show on the day. I got there in plenty of time, and with the help of 2 boxes of Kleenex, 4 paracetamol, and 4 ibuprofen – I got through the day. Cheryl was fabulous and made me feel confident despite how I felt and my bright rosy cheeks!!
My only regret on the day was that I was sneezing so much I had to miss some of the other speakers, so as not to distract or put them off! Luckily as everything was recorded and is on the TEDx Youtube channel – I got to watch them all afterwards.
All I can say is that Cheryl did a fantastic job. She put together 19 wonderful people, with important, educational, inspirational and entertaining talks. She helped those who were inexperienced and very nervous, to deliver a Wow experience for the audience. She helped the more experienced speakers, to understand and work within the TEDx ‘rules’. And she inspired the speakers and the attendees by her hard work, organisational and team-building skills and her pure talent as a speaker coach.
If you have the opportunity to do a TEDx talk then take it. And if you further have the opportunity to work with and be coached by Cheryl – grab it with both hands!!
“What has been the effect of your TEDx experience?”
There have been so many positives that came out of that day. I made some new friends and renewed friendships with people I had known previously. I have had lots of positive feedback from friends, family, and clients. It’s also pretty cool to be able to put TEDx Speaker on my signature and my website – it gives credibility. I have spoken many times, but there is something very special about being able to say you are a TEDx speaker. People have heard of it, they know you MUST be good if you have spoken at TEDx.
Probably for me, the best things were related to the experience itself. Firstly I now have a memory that I will have forever. I don’t remember the nuances of the many talks I have done over the years, but I will remember every detail of the TEDx. That’s special.
And finally, it made me realise that you can do anything you put your mind to – no matter what obstacles life might put in your way. If it had been any other day, I would have stayed in bed, but I had an idea worth sharing – and NOTHING was going to stop me sharing it.