The behind the scenes of my TEDx experience

The behind the scenes of my TEDx experience

Gemma Garcia Godall

Gemma, who leads our team in Spain, gave a talk on Emotional Intelligence at TEDxIESE Barcelona in April 2018.  We had a chat with with her on what she learnt from the experience.


How did you got invited to TEDx Barcelona?

A very good friend of mine Conor Neil is a communication teacher at IESE, one of the top business schools in Barcelona and the host of the event TEDxIESE.

Conor has been very supportive of me since I began my new project as a coach and founder of the Emotional Intelligence Institute in Spain and he connected me to the event management team. I shared my passion about Emotional Intelligence (EQ) with them and the amazing thing is that they chose me as one of the speakers! I could not believe it when they told me. It was such great news! EQ is a hot topic nowadays and there is high interest and need in our world.  

How was it on the day?  

The final result went well I would say. I want to share my learnings and recognise that I had tough times during the weeks prior to the event around my preparation. No one said it would be easy. I live by myself with my two teenagers and we had to move to our new home five days before the event. So organising all our things into boxes took most of the time I had put aside for preparation. As a consequence, I was really nervous. To complicate things even more, my son broke his wrist that week and my daughter lost her phone. She was desperate. Her world was falling apart and so was mine. I was lucky that my mother was able to support me several times during those days.

I was angry with myself for not creating more time to practice.  I was afraid I would disappoint people who believed in me. I have to say they were difficult days.  

With all this going on, I didn’t sleep at all the night before the event. I woke with an  incredible headache and an upset stomach. So I had to put into practice all my knowledge of emotional intelligence and apply it to myself! I I breathed deeply, accepted all those feelings, put the music on and managed to change my internal dialogue.

What did you do before walking out on stage?

I arrived at the venue convinced that we would have a speech prompter so I hadn’t memorised every sentence. But there was no prompter. So there I was, two hours before getting on stage and feeling that at the key moment I would forget my speech. My cleverest move at that moment was to lock myself in a boardroom to memorise and practice. Those two hours were very precious to me.

Sharing my worries with other speakers was also a great idea. I remember explaining to another speaker just 15 minutes before I went on stage, my fear of forgetting my next line, and he said to me “Yes, I have the same fear, so I’ve decided to write some notes on a little piece of paper and put it in my pocket, this way I know that if I forget what to say I will look at the paper but at least I will remain in silence for the whole 20 minutes!” This was such a great chat!  It helped me to realise that I was not the only one with this fear. And I did exactly the same thing - I wrote my notes on a little piece of paper and put it into my pocket. I did not use it, but it gave me the security I needed.


What was the best thing you did to prepare?

I played my favourite song out loud when I was feeling nervous.

Is there anything you would you do differently?

Yes, I would plan the weeks before the event in a different way. I wouldn’t choose to move house on the same week of the event just because my children were wishing to move as soon as possible. I learned that when planning key events you need to leave space for  unforeseen surprises because in my case they always seem to pop up. I would have loved to focus only on the TEDx preparation that week.

Anything else?

Trust myself. And sometimes, when needed, put myself first.

What are the three key learnings you got from this experience?

  1. Great learnings! Sometimes it is not a case of speeding up. In some moments in our life slowing down is really necessary to allow ourselves to enjoy and integrate the experience and unique moments so, as I said, plan with more space in the agenda. My continuous search for efficiency makes me fill all spaces and gaps. This impacts the quality of the activities I do and the quality of my life.

  2. Not to be so demanding of myself. If I cannot be the perfect mother for two weeks, it is ok. Sometimes I need to accept it is ok to compromise, and not to feel guilty about it.

  3. Reach out for support. I did ask for some help, but I could have done it even more.

Any final thoughts to share?

I am really happy I took the risk and I was brave enough to get out of my comfort zone. At the end of this challenge I was exhausted and really sick, but I did it and being on a TED talk one day, was one of my dreams! It was an amazing experience. I would definitely do it again. And I know experience comes from practice, so in the future it will be better and better, and if I could do it in English, imagine what I can do in my mother language!

Again, the event management team was incredible, they were all IESE students volunteers, and did an awesome job!  Special thanks to Conor Neil and the team.

Gemma’s talk at TEDxIESE will be released soon, keep an eye out for it!