Citizenship At Work: My TEDxReno Video

June 10, 2013

My TEDxReno video is now live.

I have to tell you honestly that they had some problems with audio that day, starting with my talk. They edited out the entire front end of my talk, so I share it with you again below so you can know how it really started:

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” President John Kennedy gave us this mantra of citizenship in his 1961 inaugural address. Two hundred and seventeen words before this now famous call to action, he told us why it matters with these words: “In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course.”

TEDx_Twitter_Logo_1.2I’m glad I got the opportunity to do one of these. It is the most difficult talk I’ve ever given in my life. I bet I spent about 50 hours preparing – something I’ve never done before. The folks at TEDxReno did a very good job helping their speakers to prepare, something that I will try to copy when I help my team organize our next TEDxUniversityofNevada.

The audio problems affected my delivery. You can see me trying to keep my arms away from my body because I thought it was something about my clothing that was causing the loud “pops”. I found out later it had nothing to do with me and was instead a problem with the operation of the equipment. I was the third speaker of the day; I wish the audio problems had ended with me, but they did not.

I left the event with an increased commitment to our TEDxUniversityofNevada 2014 speakers. We will expect our speakers to work hard to give us the best 15 minute talk of their life, and on the day of the event, we will make sure our technology works flawlessly.

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Comments (10)

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  1. Thanks for sharing this Bret – poor audio and all. Nicely done, and I enjoyed seeing you in this venue. What did you learn by doing this? Was it worth your time? Thanks, Mary Jo

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Thanks, MJ. I learned two very important things from this process. The first is just how truly difficult delivering a good TED talk is. I have an increased admiration for those that have done it well. I also have increased empathy for those that will speak at the TEDx event I help organize.

    The second thing I learned is the value of forcing myself outside of my comfort zone. Part of this process scared the snot out of me – something that does not happen to me often as a speaker. This was the first talk I have ever scripted, and the first one I’ve ever practiced. I swear I practiced 25 hours. It was good for me to force myself to try something new. It can’t only help me improve my craft in the long run



  2. Thanks Bret. That’s transformative learning, especially for someone who makes a living speaking to students (which I imagine is a very different animal). Thanks for responding to my question – on a personal level, it gives some food for thought.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Even when I speak/train in public, I am well prepared, but very ad hoc. The TEDx formula is not ad hoc speaking. Thanks! Bret

  3. Mark Behl says:

    Great Job Bret. I really like the thought of creating “stories” of good citizenship within our organizations. You did a fantastic job of delivering the content timely and accurately without any stumbles along the way. Hard to do. I have given a lot speeches, and agree with you, that can be delivered ad hoc – TEDx is not that!

    Thanks for sharing and for your part in bringing such a great event to our area.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome to my blog, Mark! Thanks for the kind words and for sharing your thoughts. Hope we see someone from your organization on our stage again in Jan 2015. Bret

  4. Cindy Rainer Duckett says:

    Bret: I want to comment, not as a student or as a colleague, but as a family member who has known you since you were in diapers. I was SO impressed by your presentation — and I am SO proud of the man you have become. I never cease to be amazed by the offspring of our father’s mother’s, and by the offspring of their siblings.

    Your core values, and your incredible ability to convey those values to others, is something shared (in a variety of ways) by others in our lineage, but you are special in a way I’m not sure I can put my finger on to adequately explain it to you.

    You are a brilliant star that shines so brightly amongst so many points of light.

    This particular talk reminded me of, and reinforced, some of my own core values, and for that, and so much more, I thank you so very, very much. You’re a great teacher and a priceless role model. You may have noticed that both of my adult children follow your blogs and it pleases me very much that they do.

    You don’t have to post this on your site if you don’t want to. I just wanted to take a minute to let you know how special you really are — and always have been — and how very much I still love and appreciate you!!

    Best wishes in all you do!!


    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Cindy. Thanks for the kind words. Very much appreciated. Bret

  5. Shila says:

    I just got to watch your talk and I thought it was awesome! Great job. You were very well prepared, and I barely even noticed the audio. You rock Dr. Simmons, thanks for the inspiring stuff!

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    It was a very difficult talk. Hope you get to experience that someday 🙂 Thanks, Shila! Bret