A TEDx talk is a collaboration between a speaker – like myself – and the vision and mission of the individual TEDx committee including the many people who support the sharing of these ideas and stories – like my TEDx coach, Kevin Cummiskey (above).  Read on to learn about our first meeting for my Jan. 20 TEDx talk – and how it all happened.  But first …

TEDxNatick 2018 will take place on Saturday, January 20, 2018 at Natick High School, Performing Arts Center just outside Boston.  At this very special TEDX appearance with the theme “Stories That Inspire” I’ll join a talented group of speakers that will bring energy, creativity, joy, and wonder to the TEDxNatick stage. We will explore a wide range of provocative topics ranging from music composition to social reform, physics, poetry, health, architecture, sports, art, genetics, climate change, exercise, and more.

  • WHAT: TEDX – Stories That Inspire
  • WHERE: Natick High School Performing Arts Center, 15 West St. Natick, Massachusetts, 01760
  • WHEN: Sat Jan. 20, 2018
  • More Info & Tix: TEDX-Natick

TEDxNatick 2018 - Stories That Inspire - will take place Sat. Jan. 20 at Natick High School just outside Boston! Featured speaker: Deborah Henson-Conant Share on X

    • Read about my session with my TEDX coach below
    • Get info & TIX for the TEDX Event HERE
    • AND…  SAVE THE DATE for a DHC  Solo show at TCAN – the Center for Arts – also in Natick, MA – Feb. 3rd just 2 weeks after TEDx! I’ll be releasing my new “Essential DHC” Double compilation album. Tix will be available soon.  Check my Event Page for updates!

(My assistant, Beatriz, interviewed me about the TEDx project and how I’m working with the TEDx team and the coach they provided. Following are the questions she asked and my answers.)

What is a TEDX event?

So, first let’s start with what “TED” is.  According to what we found online,TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged (thus “TED”) — and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues to the arts — in more than 100 languages.

We started with Kevin asking me to outline my story for him.

So what’s with the ‘x’??

On Tumbler we read: “When the TED organization started the TEDx program, x stood for independently organized. In time it has come to stand for so much more. For multiplying ideas, getting into action and connecting a global community. A pulse or a heartbeat of ideas around the globe.”
— An organizer of TEDxEutropolis on the meaning of the “x” in TEDx.

So a “TEDx” event is an independent, locally planned and coordinated TED-type event.

Apparently some of the funniest things I say are when I’m simply telling the unadulterated truth.

How did you become a TEDx Speaker?

While I think it’s possible to apply to become a TEDx speaker, I think that many, like me, are invited.  In my case, I think I was invited because several people from the committee had been to my shows and know that story is a huge part of all my work.  So it made sense that I would fit with their theme.  Which leads me to …

What’s the THEME?

Different TEDx events have different themes.  When the organizers of TEDx in Natick contacted me and we first talked about potential ideas for my talk, I immediately suggested I talk about the book I’m working on, “Strings of Passion,” which is about the 7 principles of creative expression starting from impulse to the moment of liftoff – but Rosemary, my primary contact, reminded me that the theme of the Natick TEDx is different from the classic TED principle of IDEAS that inspire. 

The Natick TEDx theme is STORIES that inspire.  They suggested I tell the story of how I came to have a harp that I wear.

It turns out that story is much deeper than I thought, which is just one of the powerful aspects of working with a coach.  Like most things, the deeper you dig into them, the more they reveal, as I started discovering that when I created my first outline of the piece and then sat down with Kevin to go through it.

“OK, but consider THIS … ” is probably the jist of what Kevin was saying right about this moment.

How did you get a TEDx coach??

One of the things that made me especially excited about doing this TEDx event is that it’s not like they just pick you and you come and speak and that’s it.  It’s a process, a collaboration that started with several discussions with members of the creative committee, to make sure we were all on the same page in terms of the kind of story I might tell.

Then one day I got an email saying:  “DHC, meet Kevin Cummiskey, your TEDx coach!” and suddenly I had a coach!  How cool! Kevin has a background in theater and in working with speakers to discover and clarify their own messages.  How very cool!  The images on this page are from our first meeting, and coaching session.

What will you talk about at the TEDx Event?

On the surface, it’s the story of one woman (er … me) and her determination to take a harp, shrink it down, strap it on and plug it in.   But it’s really about the hunger to find what we need to support our creative voice, the power of collaboration to create that support – and the surprising truth that, when we fulfill our own dreams they can sometimes lead to the fulfillment of many others’ dreams … sometimes much later than we could have imagined.

But … I didn’t know that’s what it was about when we started.

Before the first meeting with Kevin, I’d written a rough draft of the speech and gone through it with my creative buddy, Alex Feldman, who’s been a vital part of my own history with my instrument.

At our first session, Kevin and I sat down and talked through that draft, crossing out big swathes of text, brainstorming, acting sections out for each other, digging to see what I was really saying — all the while Kevin was guiding me to find the ever-more-personal and universal resonance of this story.  I knew I’d hit it when I started crying (not pictured here).

By the end of the session I realized that Kevin was working with me to get out of my own interpretation of my story and see the greater meaning of it:  how one’s own tunnel-visioned artist’s determination can sometimes lead to creative liberation for a whole new generation of artists who weren’t even born when you started – and how you can think you’re completely alone in the trenches ’til you look up and see there’s an entire orchestra playing along.

So what’s next?

The thing about a story is that it reveals more and more to the teller, and the more you take it apart and put it back together, the more it reveals  For me that experience is the epitome of discovery and collaboration. 

TEDx: For me this process is the epitome of discovery and collaboration. And that equals complete delight. Share on X






Join for Freebies, Stories & News

Join for Freebies, Stories & News

Join to get weekly-ish emails with stories, videos & events like concerts & classes

Yay! You should get my next newsletter within the next 7-10 days. I'm so happy we'll be in touch!

"5-DAY Harp IMPROV Challenge" 

A FREE Training 
from  Deborah Henson-Conant


Learn the First Step of Freedom: Free Yourself from Reading the Notes on the Page.  Register here to join the challenge

Woohoo! You'r Registered for the 2022 "5-Day Harp Improv" Challenge!