Inside my head at TEDx
Right at this moment, the only thing I can think about is that my mouth is very dry. The coffee I am sipping makes my tongue feel like sandpaper. There are three people in the room, we talk, but I don't really listen.
We are in a small back room with a black door on one end. Now there is big applause on the other side, followed by someone speaking. The door is opened, I step through it and start walking down a rickety flight of stairs. The applause comes back and the man who was just speaking is walking towards me. As we pass each other, he says in a hushed voice: "I forgot the clicker, it is on the table."
I nod at him and walk out onto the stage. The applause continues as I cross the stage, walk up to the table and find the clicker.
While walking back towards the center, I fiddle with the clicker to make the right picture appear and then look out at the crowd. I feel isolated and small. My mouth is still dry.
"I would like to ask you a very big question," I say.
A slight lag in the sound feels disjointed but I continue speaking.
"Why do we want the internet?"
A few sentences in I throw another question at the audience. I raise my hand to demonstrate the reaction I want from them. After some initial uncertainty, people catch on; a few hands go up, and soon many more. I begin to relax a bit.
After some minutes, I start noticing little details. There is a crease in the carpet. The crease hides a cable. I wonder if someone has already tripped on it. There is water over at the table where the clicker was. In the first row, there is a young man with a relaxed and happy face.
Then I realize that I have lost focus and don't know what to say next! My thoughts race as they try to pick up the thread of the words from the previous sentence still coming out of my mouth. I stumble slightly before continuing. Did the audience notice, I wonder?
An 18-minute-long presentation in front of a live audience is a difficult length. It is long enough that it is challenging to keep interesting and yet too short for lapses. But it is great to have that time. In an age where 30 seconds is deemed too long, TED is a forum that goes the other way.
I finish my talk only seconds before the time is up, say "Thank you" and bow to the audience. There is applause and the moderator returns to the stage. I hand him the clicker and return up the rickety stairs to the back room. My mouth is no longer dry.
So - why do we want the internet then? Please go ahead and watch my talk. The internet is the biggest thing in your life. Thinking about why you want it must be worth more than 30 seconds of your time!