Tedx Birmingham 2017 - Ignore the Impossible
On March 25, 2017, I was privileged to be the opening speaker for TedxBirmingham 2017 and it was a blast! I was the first magician to ever appear there.
It has been my dream to be a Tedx speaker for quite a while. Getting from initial idea to the stage was a journey of several months, and it was filled with quite a bit of rewrites, memorization, editing for more rewrites, practice, and more editing. But the end result was spectacular.
I knew going into it that if I could make it as a speaker I would have an incredibly polished presentation. I had no idea how much it would also help me with my stage presence.
If you've ever seen me perform, you'll know I usually move around a lot, interacting with the audience and playing off the crowd. You may not walk out of my shows thinking I'm supernatural, but you'll walk out having had a good time with a lot of energy.
For Tedx Birmingham, I had to stay in a relatively small stage area (the red dot) and the audience was staying seated the whole time. I had to come up with effects that required little audience involvement yet still were visual. I had to be calm and confident.
Oh, and I had to be able to carry the entire presentation in my pockets as I came up. They offered me a stool to keep props on in a box, but I wanted everything to be as clean as possible. Just me, with the necessary props appearing when needed and then disappearing so there was nothing to distract the audience when not in use.
And no notes. Everything had to be straight from memory. I am notorious for keeping at least a cheat sheet handy. The team pushed me to do it all with no net, and I am so thankful they did. It's overall the most professional thing I've ever done.
The end result was one I am incredibly happy with. I will be posting links to the video everywhere when it is uploaded so you can be the judge, but I think it all went well. Before I was introduced, I was standing offstage fighting to keep my hands dry as they had begun to sweat like crazy. That never happens to me, so why shouldn't it start happening as I'm getting ready to face probably the most intellectual audience I've ever faced? These folks came for ideas, not a magic show, and yet they still openly embraced me with enthusiasm and excitement.
After the first session break, the participants were able to interact with the speakers in discussion stations throughout the facility. I brought a performance table and set up an impromptu magic show at mine, performing for almost an hour and a half for whoever wanted to see it. The folks I met were filled with questions and most of all, wonder. People who spend the money to come to a Tedx event are usually very inquisitive and open to new ideas. It was an honor to get to work with them.
Artists offered visual representations of each speaker's talk. The artist assigned to me, Chris Garrison, did an outstanding job of capturing the essence of the old magic posters to create mine. Not sure what they are going to do with it, but I obviously want to own that little beauty one day!
So what's next? Well, more rewrites. The creative process at Tedx Birmingham forced me to take my one-hour motivational presentation and strip it down to 10 minutes of pure meat. I had to cut out a lot of the fat to get to just straight content, and in the process I found a new way to present the idea. As such, my "Impossible Things" show has now become "Ignore the Impossible", and is well on its way to becoming the best thing I've ever produced. If you are looking for a corporate presentation that will help you inspire your company or team, talk to me because this presentation will definitely fit the bill.
In the end, working with Tedx Birmingham has made me a better speaker and magician, and given me confidence and knowledge toward creating the absolute best show possible. I am indescribably grateful to the Tedx Birmingham team for helping me take things to the next level. I am taking what I've learned and channeling it into this year's big show.
This year's show is going to be more challenging than anything before, but I fully believe it will be something you'll be glad you attended. It's a new direction from last year's Stardome show.
I hope to someday return to the Tedx Birmingham stage if I am able to find a message I feel passionate about conveying again. But even if it was a one-time thing, its effects on my magic will be evident from now on. Thank you, Matthew, Rebecca, and Katie, for the experience.