TED Talks: Prepping For The Talk Of Your Life with Tricia Brouk

TED Talks draw millions of viewers all over the world. It’s no wonder rigorous preparation is done by the speakers. Preparing for a speech requires more than just words but a presence that touches people’s minds and hearts. Tricia Brouk, an international award-winning director and the Executive Producer of Speakers Who Dare, produce videos and prepare speakers for TED Talks or TEDx. She shares some tips on how you can captivate your audience and achieve your goal of getting your message across. Join host Dr. Diane Hamilton and Tricia Brouk as they get more into directing and producing methods as well as their thoughts on delivering impactful speeches.

TTL 591 | Preparing Speakers For TED


We have Tricia Brouk. She’s an international award-winning director. She’s got all kinds of businesses that are involved in the speaking and producing area of Hollywood and in the TEDx series. It’s really interesting if you look at how they all overlap. She’s going to talk about some of the stuff she’s doing to help people be better speakers.

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TED Talks: Prepping For The Talk Of Your Life with Tricia Brouk

I am here with Tricia Brouk, who’s an international award-winning director. She’s worked in theater, film, TV, you name it. She is the Executive Producer of Speakers Who Dare, a former TEDx producer. It’s nice to have you here, Tricia.

Diane, thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited.

I’m excited too because everything that you’ve done is fascinating. I was thinking of some of your work I’m very familiar with. I used to be a big fan of Black Box on ABC. You choreographed that. What does that mean you choreographed it?

Kelly Reilly’s character was a neurosurgeon and she had bipolar disorder. There were scenes written into the show where she had bouts of mania and there was literally dancing. We also discussed very closely with the director, Simon Curtis, the fact that when you struggle with bipolar disorder, you have a physicality that is sexual. It’s also specific to when you have depression and when you have mania, your physicality changes. Kelly and I worked closely throughout the entire series on how to present physically within all of the scenes that had been written. It was fantastic. I absolutely loved it.

I was really sorry that the show isn’t still on because I liked it. I thought she did a great job and you’ve been on some of these unbelievable shows. Before I start going into all of them because I know you did work on The Affair, Rescue Me. There’s so many that you’ve won awards for. I want to go through some of these, but I want to talk about how you got into this because I’d like to have a little foundation on you. You’ve worked in theater, film and television. How did you get into all that?

I knew as a young girl that I was going to move to New York City and be in showbiz. I studied dance my entire life and went to college to Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, got a BFA in dance and moved to New York City at the age of twenty. I pursued this career relentlessly. I knew I wanted to be a performer and a creator of art. That’s what I did. I was very lucky to know what I wanted to do with my life and very determined to do it. I have always been in New York City working on this path and went from dancer to choreographer, to director, to writer, director, producer and found my way into the incredible world of public speaking and TEDx. Becoming a director for speakers has been a natural and organic process. I am also a documentary filmmaker as well because I became conscious of the fact that I could have a huge ripple effect besides just being on stage myself. If I could put people on stages who are sharing important messages and put people on the big screen who are sharing important messages, then many more people can see them. That is when the change happens.

That’s quite an interesting background. I actually took dance when I was a kid. I can do wings and tap as far as I remember, but I never pursued my dance background. I wish I had because of my daughters, I had them in dance. I appreciate people. It’s so hard and people don’t know what goes behind the scenes in some of this, of what it takes to be great at some of these arts. You’ve used what you’ve known to get into so many areas. It’s fascinating you’re now working in the public speaking and TEDx realm. I’ve had so many TED speakers on the show. Daniel Goleman is very famous for his TED Talk. I’ve had a lot of TEDx people on. One thing I hear is that they’re so different based on which one you pick and some people do a little bit better jobs in certain parts of the country than others I’ve heard. Is it pretty standardized across the board or do you see a lot of differences based on where you do it?

I’m doing a TEDx series with three speakers that I directed and who all took stages on June 22nd. Part of why I’m doing that is to illuminate what TEDx is and it’s an independently organized event and you have to apply through TED and get a TEDx license. The application process is very complicated, arduous and intense. The one thing they don’t ask on the application process is if you know how to produce a show. That’s why they’re so different. It’s not necessarily across the country. It’s specific to the organizer. Somebody may want to produce a TEDx because they believe in ideas worth spreading and they want to give this opportunity to their community. That’s amazing. However, if they don’t reach out to somebody who understands how to produce a show, which means lighting, sound, the theater, then you’ve got a problem. I tell my speakers this all the time, you must vet the organizers. It does not just apply to whoever. Vet the organizers apply to an event or you know that the producer knows what they’re doing, the videos look good, they sound good, and that they’re going to give you support throughout the process. That’s really important.

You can imagine it’s so challenging to put those together. It’s got to be a learning curve and once you start to try and put together one of these shows, so I appreciate anybody who’s done this. Now that you’re working with people to do this, it’s important to look at what makes a great talk. I know some people have made poked fun a little at TED, like done the fake talks that don’t talk about anything to show that you can have a talk that sounds great but you don’t really learn anything. How do you make sure you have a great talk and it’s not something you’re going to poke fun at later?

I think an idea worth spreading is all about knowing what your through line is, understanding that there’s an art form to TED. If you read Chris Anderson’s book, it will give you all of that insight. He talks about TED Talks are gifts, not asks. They’re ideas, not issues. You want the audience to adopt your idea as their own at the end. If you are talking about a personal story and you don’t give us an idea to think about, that’s a problem. If you are pitching your business and you don’t give us an idea to think about, that’s the problem. This is also why you want to vet the organizers. Many organizers don’t have the experience of script analysis, so when you submit your script to the organizer and they say, “This is great.” You get up on stage and you talk about a personal story that has nothing to do with an idea worth spreading, that’s a problem. If you decide you want to take the TED stage or a TEDx stage, lead with the idea. What is the idea that you want the world to think about?

TTL 591 | Preparing Speakers For TED
Preparing Speakers For TED: People who produce TEDx believe in ideas worth spreading, and they want to give this opportunity to the community.


I’ve been working to come up with the TEDx Talk and not to the point where I’ve even officially started it, but I was thinking with my work with curiosity, that’s where you need to start. That’s what I want to do is get the world to be more curious. Let’s say somebody like me comes to you and I’m saying I have this idea. What do you help them do?

When I work with clients one-on-one, and they come to me saying I want to take the TED stage. I start with an active listening session and that looks like me spending 90 minutes to two hours asking them tons of questions based on the research I’ve already done on that. I’ll give you an example. Kristin Smedley came to me. I was not yet the organizer of TEDx Lincoln Square. She came to me and she said, “I want to do a TEDx.” We put that out into the universe together. We had our first active listening session and she began to share with me. She started a foundation several years ago for retinal awareness. Two of her three children were born blind from a rare eye disease. She wanted to talk about this rare eye disease and bring awareness and etc.

I dug in and started asking her all these questions. When we were done with the session, I said, “Kristin, your idea is not about retinal disease. Your idea is how you learned to see the world differently through the eyes of your children.” That’s how you get to the place where it’s an idea worth spreading that’s global, because you have to ask the three questions. Why is this important? Why is this important to you? Why is this important to the world? Why is that important? Because it brings awareness. Why is it important to Kristin? Because she’s directly related to this. Why is it important to the world? If I don’t have kids or I don’t have blind kids, I need to be able to connect to this idea and I can because we’ve turned it into how she learned to see the world through the eyes of her children. If I think about how I need to see the world through the eyes of other people, that’s going to create a new way of thinking for me.

That’s a great story in empathy. That’s interesting to see the way these go. I’ve had the one Kate who did what we learned from soap operas in real life. I thought that was interesting. She was on my show and some of these things you don’t even think would be a title. I’m watching, I get sucked in and I’m like, “This is so great to watch this.” I have also talked to Hall of Fame speakers about this, about what makes a speaker captivating. We see a lot of really great Hall of Fame speakers who are men. Do you think it’s more challenging for women to be captivating? I’m thinking of Amy Edmondson did a great TED Talk. She was on my show. She’s not super preacher running across the stage personality. I think for TED that works, how do you be captivating in a TED-style? That’s a little different than in a corporate setting, don’t you think?

I think that you use the same techniques that I teach my actors and my speakers, which is objective and action. An objective is what you want from your audience and the actions, how you get it. You can apply this to any kind of speech, any kind of communication, even Facebook Lives. That means understanding what you want from your audience. Here’s an example. If I want my husband to take out the trash, that’s my objective. How do I get him to do that? I could beg him, I could seduce him, I could pay him. That’s what you need to do as a speaker. You need to go on stage and understand what you want from your audience. That could be to adopt your idea as their own.

It could be to donate to your favorite charity, it could be to buy your book. Knowing what you want from the audience never changes. How you go about getting it is how you change. That’s how you become captivating because you’re fresh every single time. When an actor on Broadway goes to work, they do eight shows a week. Sometimes they don’t feel like going into work, even the people in Hamilton. When you go to the office, when you go to the theater, you’ve got to figure out how to bring it every night because that audience has seen the show for the first time, not the eighth. Therefore, you play objective and action and you have something to do which keeps you intention-driven and absolutely present.

You bring up some interesting points. You talked about your reason for what you want people to do, adopt the idea or buy the book. A lot of people get on there because they want to be speakers, they want to have people buy their books. They want to have that as the reasoning. You don’t want to be up there selling. I think I’ve seen a few that I was surprised it came across as sales pitchy for their books. Do they have guidelines that say you can’t say this or that type of thing?

That brings us back to the organizers. If you don’t have a good organizer, they will let you get away with things that are not allowed from the TED manual. TED ultimately has the final say in what videos get posted. We do not post those on to the YouTube channel. Organizers must upload them to TED and it’s up to TEDx whether or not they post them. If you’re selling from the stage, they’re not going to post that. If you are talking about pseudoscience, they’re not going to post that. If you are wearing a logo on your shirt, they’re not going to post that. If the lighting and the sound is bad, they’re not going to post that. When you decide to go down this road of TED or TEDx, take it seriously.

It’s a challenging thing. I had a guy on my show who went through an internship program or it’s something where you live in New York for a few months. Do you know what that is? Where you only do a seven-minute talk, but it goes on to TED instead of TEDx.

[bctt tweet=”Your objective as a speaker should be what you want from your audience. Your actions should be how you get or apply it. ” via=”no”]

That’s because they have an office here with a stage and a theater and they allow those interns. It’s a great program. It’s a really interesting program.

You’re in New York. If somebody came to you, do they actually film? You help them become a good TEDx speaker and all that, but do you have your own TEDx studio? What do you have? I’m trying to visualize.

I work from home. I do a lot of my training in one-on-ones virtually. I also have the Speaker Salon in New York City where I work with fifteen speakers for six weeks in New York City. I have a fall salon and a spring salon. I decided to create the salon because the theater that I work out of for Speakers Who Dare, which is my event now, I’d put the speakers on my theater every week for six weeks. It’s an incubator for speakers. It’s an opportunity for them to work on their content, to work on their delivery, to work on their blocking and choreography. At the end of the Speaker Salon, there’s a showcase where they get to perform their talks in front of TEDx organizers, speaker bureaus, television producers, and people who could potentially book them on stages. I work with speakers in all different capacities.

Six weeks of that time, how much are they spending with you? Is it Monday through Friday? Is it a couple of hours a day? Is it all day long? I’m curious what the days are like.

It’s Thursday from 10:00 to 2:00.

That’s it, one day of the week?

Once a week for six weeks, they all get stage time. Between each day they’re working on their material, they’re working on their script and they’re working on their memorization. I teach a lesson at the beginning of it and they’re observing and absorbing that lesson. The Speaker Salon is in person and The Big Talk Academy, which I’m starting in September, is a virtual version of that. I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me who say, “I can’t commute to the city or I don’t live close enough and I don’t want to move to New York for six weeks.” My mission is to create a world full of authentic and intention-driven, heart-centered speakers and communicators. In order to do that, I need to be able to be with more people. That’s why I started The Big Talk Academy.

How does that work virtually then? Is it the same thing, tended to certain times? Is it any different than that?

The one-on-one stuff is virtual, but The Big Talk Academy, they get a lesson sent to them every week and then they get a group Zoom call with me twice a month. There’s a virtual showcase at the end where they will perform in front of their computer screen and I will give them direction based on that performance.

Does that get in front of TEDx people like the one in New York or is that just in front of you?

It’s just in front of me. It’s like the baby steps for people who are interested in going bigger.

Have you thought about if they get in front of you, then they can maybe come out for the last part that the other people do in New York and get in front of people and just come out once?

The Speaker Salon is such an intimate group and community and it’s something that is really cherished. That’s why I limit it to fifteen people.

You work on having speakers be authentically themselves. What does that mean exactly to you?

It means being willing to be judged and criticized.

That’s tough for a lot of people. I’ve gone to a lot of those Toastmasters groups and I think people are easygoing in those groups. They don’t really get too deep of what people need to fix. How deep do you guys go?

If you are going to work with me, you have to be willing to get completely naked, absolutely vulnerable. There’s no point to taking a stage if you’re not going to transform and be transformed.

I always thought it would be helpful to take acting, to take comedy, to take all these things to be a really good speaker. I always thought improv was even great for that. When you’re going through this, you do rehearsals. What’s the process like what they go through in New York if there were the rehearsals or what if you’re going to create a TED Talk? Let’s go to the TED Talk on that. Don’t you have to rehearse your talk over and over again to get to the point? Do you recommend that they memorize? Do you recommend a certain way of going about this to have the perfect end product?

The TEDx platform is eighteen minutes or less and they do not allow notes. There is an absolute memorization process that happens. When I work with my speakers, whether it’s in the Speaker Salon, whether it’s the Speakers Who Dare platform or whether it’s their TEDx, I will work with them on memorizing. There are a lot of techniques that we use together to do that. It’s part of the rehearsal process. The process, whether it’s Speakers Who Dare, Speaker Salon, TEDx or keynote is the same with me. We start with an active listening session. We then move into the blueprint process. From there, the writing process starts. We work on the scripts together. I do script analysis and dramaturge of the script, then we move into the performance part of the process which also includes memorization techniques and objective and action. We move into let’s remove any possible thing that can go wrong and set you up for success so that you can walk onto that stage and deliver a captivating, incredible speech.

If you don’t make it to eighteen minutes, is there a penalty for that? Do they get upset? What if you talk too fast and you did it in sixteen minutes or what if you went over by two seconds, do they cut you off? Is it like the Academy Awards where they just drag you out? How does that work if that happens?

They don’t cut you off but most of the speakers are rehearsed enough to know exactly how long your talk takes and what it’s going to come in at and organizers will give you a specific amount of time. If they want you to do a twelve-minute talk, then you do a twelve-minute talk. If they say you have the entire eighteen minutes, it’s the responsibility of the speaker to rehearse to time themselves and to make sure that they’re coming in at eighteen minutes.

TTL 591 | Preparing Speakers For TED
Preparing Speakers For TED: There’s no point to taking a stage if you’re not going to transform and be transformed.


Was there a big mistake a lot of speakers make then? Is it not keeping track of the time? What are the mistakes they make you think?

The mistakes speakers make are thinking that they can go on the stage and wing it with bullet points or with slide decks. The other mistake they make is not having somebody give them notes on their performance so they end up watching it back and their arms are flailing all over the place or they’ve said um and so a million times. It’s very important that you understand this video is going to live online for the rest of your life. Be very conscious of what performance you want to give, whether it’s a TED stage or any other platform. You have one opportunity to nail it, therefore take the time it requires to be prepared.

I’m thinking of Sir Ken Robinson standing there, joking off to the side thing. Not too many people can pull that off.

I’d also like to point out that he was one of the first six TED Talks ever to be released on video. Nobody really knew what they were doing yet. That is why TED Talk looks like that.

A lot of people like it. He had some interesting comments and things to say. I was curious about style, for example. Do you try to work around the individual style, like that’s the style to be funny or do you try to leave the humor out? Would you work with what they wear? Is it okay to wear jeans? Do you see some people wearing certain things like that? What do you teach them with style?

You have to be yourself. If you are the type of person who wears a bow tie, then you should wear a bow tie. You have to be yourself. You have to be authentic and you have to absolutely own who you are on that stage and off. If you are somebody who doesn’t wear a suit in real life, why are you going to wear a suit on a TEDx or why are you going to wear a suit to a speaking engagement unless they ask you to do that? It’s really important and I work with speakers on every single detail of their experience.

You didn’t use to see as many people doing TEDx as you do now. There’s a point where everybody wasn’t writing books. Now, everybody’s writing books. Everybody seems to have a TED Talk. Is TED Talk now the new business card where they said the book was the new business card? Are we watering down the value of it or is it really still important to have a TEDx Talk?

I think if you want to go through the experience of transforming as a speaker, it’s great. If you want to have credibility for your business or have a companion speech with your book, it’s great. It all comes down to choosing the right event.

It’s hard. How do you know which event is the best one?

You want to ask around. There are a lot of us who will talk about other events and point you in the direction of the good ones. There are a lot of people who’ve done excellent TEDx events. You want to ask them to make introductions to those organizers. You want to vet people. You want to do your due diligence.

There are certain things you say just don’t ever do from the stage, like promote your book or whatever, some things you should always do from the stage.

You should never apologize from the stage. You should never confuse anger with passion from the stage. You should never do air quotes from the stage. That’s lazy. Find a word that you actually want to use. You should never blame the tech people for something malfunctioning on stage. You want to simply pause, ask for help, let them fix your mic, and then thank them.

How much of that stuff happens? Does anybody ever pass out because they’re so stressed out or throw up? I always wonder. Are there these stories of people who have had scary incidents on stage?

I’ve never heard of anybody passing out. I have seen speakers become very flustered because they’ve forgotten some of their lines. I’ve seen speakers who begin to talk and the microphone is not working. When they’re on my stage, I stop and I say, “Can we have a moment?” We fix the sound problem and then we continue or we start over because ultimately you’re being videotaped. If you start over, then you’ve got a clean video. There are a lot of things that can go wrong on stage and that are why you need to rehearse the talk in front of people beforehand.

If you go on stage and something happens, it could fluster you if you haven’t practiced this talk in front of people under mild stress before. If you’re rehearsing in front of the mirror, in front of your dog, there’s no stress there. You don’t know what’s going to happen to your body when you take a stage and your body will betray you. You will have an upset stomach. You will have sweaty palms. Your knees might actually be shaking. If you don’t know how to deliver that talk when your body betrays you and something else goes wrong like the sound or the lighting, then you have no idea what to do. We have to make sure that under any and all circumstances, you know how to maintain your cool.

[bctt tweet=”Knowing what you want from the audience helps you become more captivating.” via=”no”]

Do they do any editing or is it just straight? I assume they didn’t, but is there any editing involved in those?

It’s all up to the organizers. If you’ve got somebody who doesn’t edit the videos and you make a mistake, that mistake is going to be in the video. In my events, I absolutely edit anything that’s a problem. I will edit it so they look amazing, they sound amazing. I edit all my videos.

Your events are always in New York. Is there a list, like if you’re really good you can get in New York TEDx? If you’re not, you should probably start off in Timbuktu.

No, that’s not at all how it is. That’s something that I want to eliminate. There’s nothing elitist about TED and it’s all about the organizers. If you’ve got a producer who cares about ideas worth spreading, who wants to create a community of speakers and who wants to create an event for their community, it’s not about Timbuktu and New York, it’s about the organizer and how much they care about the product that they’re delivering.

How much do you think people should invest in getting ready for a TEDx Talk? Is this a big financial burden for them? Are you looking at ROI? I’m sure a lot of people ask you about that. I’m curious what you’d say to that.

The ROI for doing a TED or a TEDx is the exposure, the credibility and the visibility. You’re not getting paid. Speakers are not allowed to get paid. Organizers are not allowed to get paid. In terms of your investment, most organizers will also provide you with free coaching so you don’t have to invest anything if you get a TEDx.

If you want to have all this training and all that kind of thing, would you recommend that?

I’m on the fence about that. With the three speakers that I put on stages on June 22nd, this TEDx series that I’m doing with them, a webinar, they all invested and they all feel like it gave them the best possible experience and they were all transformed by it. I think that it’s up to the speaker. What I do know is that you don’t want to go it alone. It doesn’t mean you have to invest in coaching. It does mean you have to invest in the time, in the support system and in an audience to give you feedback. You do not want to do this process and go through this process alone the entire time because if you walk onto that stage and it’s not good, you’ve given yourself a real problem.

How long is that process though to get? Like say, I come up with this TEDx idea that somebody actually picked me to be. I sent in a request, I saw a call for speakers for Nevada. You submit one, they pick you and then how long does it take to go through getting everything together and ready? What time do you suggest people take?

I suggest no less than three months. That also means you need to pay attention to the organizers’ application and event. If applications are open on Monday and the event is on Friday, run. That’s not enough time for anybody. If the applications are open and it’s only two weeks, I would suggest finding another event. It’s not enough time. If you’ve got somebody who’s got applications open and you’ve got six months, that’s great. You’re going to be able to really dial in your talk and have enough time to rehearse it, to be fully memorized and to be completely at ease when you walk onto that stage, but no less than three months.

If you apply, how long does it take for them to tell you if you’ve been accepted? Do they always tell you or do you just hear if you have been accepted? I’m sure that’s a lot of people that probably apply. I’m curious at the time frame.

Most organizers will let you know either way.

Is it pretty soon or do you have to wait a long time?

I think it really depends on the organizers. There’s no rule put into place for that, so if the organizers are on top of their game, they will usually say, “We will let you know within two or three weeks.” If they’re not, you might not ever hear.

It’s really interesting to see some of the TEDx actually make it to TED if they’re super popular. How do you get your TEDx on TED?

That is unknown. Sarah Montana, one of my speakers from TEDx Lincoln Square, is now on TED. I’m super proud of that because what that says is she’s an amazing speaker. The idea worth spreading is really important. Also, we produce a beautiful event, which means her talk is now on TED.

How many people come in and do a TEDx Talk at your events when you have them in one event?

I am no longer a TEDx producer. I decided to move on from TEDx Lincoln Square to produce Speakers Who Dare. Speakers Who Dare, I do twenty speakers in one day. We do an all-day event. When I did TEDx Lincoln Square, I would have ten speakers.

The final event was only ten. Was it just a one-day thing with ten speakers?

Yeah, it’s from 9:00 to 4:00, both TEDx Lincoln Square and Speakers Who Dare. With Speakers Who Dare, I limit them all to eight minutes. I really like to have as many speakers as possible in that event because it’s more exciting.

What time of the year do you do it?

It happens in March with my co-producer Jamie Broderick.

You do it one time a year and it’s a one-day event. Can they take that and use that experience to become a TEDx speaker with it later then? It prepares them to do that or is this something completely different?

TTL 591 | Preparing Speakers For TED
Preparing Speakers For TED: You don’t want to go through being a speaker alone. You have to invest in the time, the support system, and the audience to give you feedback.


It’s a completely different, unique, specific event. If they decide, they can do a TEDx. A lot of them have already done TEDx before and a lot of them do TEDx afterward, but the events aren’t related.

I meant their talk. Would it be something that, “I’ve done this. This would be a good thing to use for a TEDx Talk,” the same exact talk?

No, I encourage them not to do that. The reason why is because as a speaker, you want as much product as possible.

It’s challenging. You spend so much time to get this great. Maybe you’re really passionate about a certain idea. Do you help them come up with more than one idea of different talks? Did you ever have somebody pitch something to you and you go, “This would be great for three different things,” or is it usually one idea that people have?

People have more than one idea usually. When we’re going through the process, if we come up with another idea, we’ll save it for later. It’s always great for a speaker to have more than one talk.

What do you have to meet to be able to make it to actual TED instead of TEDx? What do you have to be in terms of recognizability? What’s the minimum for people to want them to be on an actual TED stage instead of TEDx?

It’s the idea we’re spreading. It’s always the idea.

You can actually apply to be a TEDx speaker and hope that your idea is worth getting on their stage. I do think the whole thing is interesting, what you do to help people be better speakers because there are so many people who want to be on the stage. I am curious to how what you do differs from joining something like NSA or something that’s more about marketing, how to sell yourself as a speaker. Don’t you get into that realm?

Every speaker bureaus to the Speaker Salon, so I think understanding how to pitch yourself is very important. My technique, however, is so unique because it comes from my work in the theater. I work intimately with people and I pull out of them what they may not even know is there so that they can really share an idea, share their message from a place of absolute humanity. I will not rest until they’re completely honest on that stage. If they come onto my stage and have this whole speaker persona that they’re wearing, I will break that down for them so that they can go even deeper. That’s how they become extraordinary communicators.

I love how you tied it into all your work, but you’re still doing a lot of this. Didn’t I see you won a Top Director of 2019 for your documentary? Are you still doing both things? Tell me a little bit about the work you’re still doing in terms of directing and all that.

Right Livelihood a Journey to Here, my documentary film, won Best Documentary at the Olympus Film Festival. I have also just wrapped a new documentary called You’re Gorgeous I Love Your Shirt, An Inside Look At Bullying and Mental Health. I’m shooting another doc on a widow retreat. I created a television series called The Big Talk over Dinner, which is all about bringing people together to have a three-course meal with me to talk about things that we have opposite opinions on. It’s really important to me to be able to show people how we can communicate if we don’t have the same opinion in a mindful, loving way. What I do is I help people with important ideas get onto big stages or the big screen.

First of all, I Love Your Shirt. It didn’t sound like what I thought it was going to be. They don’t really seem like the title and the subtitle or what I was expecting. How did you get that title?

You’ll have to watch them.

On the opposite opinions thing, that really fascinates me. Who do you pick for that? Is it famous people that you have opposing opinions? Who’s the guest on that?

They’re thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the business, authors, actors and all kinds of people. It’s a six-episode series and the episodes are based on the different themes, leadership, immigration, race, gender, marriage, and arts and entertainment.

What’s your opinion on the leadership side that somebody might take an opposing opinion to, for example?

What makes a good leader?

You do a lot of really fascinating things. It doesn’t sound like you have a very dull life. Everything is unique and it all interweaves with one another, the different things that you do. Working with speakers is what you mostly focus on or would you say you mostly do more of the directing?

My directing is directly related to my speakers. The work that I do, what I focus on literally is making the world a better place.

You have won a lot of awards for all of your work and I was really interested in what you were doing. I was looking forward to this. Do you have any last points that we didn’t talk about, what you want people to know about what you’re doing or how you can help them? Can you share any websites where they can reach you?

[bctt tweet=”You should never apologize from the stage. You should never confuse anger with passion from the stage.” via=”no”]

Thank you. It’s been such a pleasure and I appreciate being able to talk about the ins and outs of this business because I know people feel like they can’t reach out to title organizers or that they can’t reach out to event organizers. What I want you all to know is that you need to, you can, and you must. If anybody wants to get in touch with me, you can find me at TriciaBrouk.com. I would love to give your readers a free seven-step formula to fearless speaking which might get them over the hump. You can text my name, Tricia, to the numbers 44222.

Thank you, Tricia. It’s nice for you to do that. I think a lot of people are trying to get to be better speakers. A lot of people who read this show either had TEDx Talks, a lot of people told me they haven’t found that the organizer was that great or whatever and they’re looking to find out better places or different things to do. This ties into so many people who can really use your help. I appreciate you being on the show. Thank you so much.

It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me, Diane.

You’re welcome.

I enjoyed having Tricia on the show. There are so many people on my show who’ve given TED Talks or speak about different things that could be TED Talks. I know I’ve talked about making my curiosity information to TED Talk. Some of the things she’s teaching are the things you can get some help if you go to Toastmasters and those kinds of things, but there are a lot of things you can’t get from those. I’ve had some great people help with some of my presentations and it’s always a good thing to work in that area. Some of the stuff that she talks about, we don’t really learn about in the regular courses I’ve taught.

I’ve taught a lot of business-related courses and probably taught more than 1,000 of them. Communication is a huge topic in business and we don’t talk about how we can communicate better and we know it costs everywhere. I’ve seen tens of billions to hundreds of billions depending on the site that you look at. There’s so much that we can learn from having somebody watch what we do or pay attention to our talks and the way we communicate. I know we did a lot of that when I was in pharmaceutical sales and we’d take a video of our presentations and everybody would critique and she said, “You’ve got to have a thick skin.” It’s hard for a lot of people to hear that type of criticism.

[bctt tweet=”If you want to go through the experience of transforming as a speaker, a TED talk is great.” via=”no”]

It’s something you have to really want it and know that you can handle hearing the truth because sometimes it’s very hard to become a great speaker. I’ve had a talk about this with a lot of the Hall of Fame speakers, a lot of them happened to be men, which is interesting because I don’t get a lot of Hall of Fame speakers who are women. I’ve asked them why that is. It’s very hard to pinpoint what it is. I think its women don’t hold a lot of the same positions in business in general, but it’s getting better. I’d like to see more people work on some of the things that we’re talking about on this show in terms of developing our ability to overcome some of the things that hold us back.

That’s what I did with my curiosity research because a lot of people just are held back by fear and their environment or two of the four factors that I found in the research. There’s fear, assumptions, technology and environment are the four things that hold people back from being curious. If you look at fear, that’s something that’s going to hold you back in the speaking environment. In general of when you’re speaking up in meetings of how important it is to understand the impact that fear has on whether you’re going to ask a question or even pose a solution to something. A lot of people don’t take it as seriously to take a look at some of the things, the culture-based issues at work that will keep people from speaking up.

You’ve got to pay attention if you’re in a working situation where nobody’s asking questions and nobody’s volunteering information that you’ve probably got a fear-based setup. The environment is a huge impactor. They probably have a mindset that, “It doesn’t matter if I ask a question. It won’t be used for something.” I’ve worked in a company in the past where if I offered a suggestion, they’d just give me more work and they don’t pay me more. There are so many factors around what keeps people from giving ideas, asking questions and being truly innovative. I’ve had great people on the show who are able to get past the fear, who are able to get over some of these problems. A lot of it is that voice in your head that’s telling you that, “This is going to be too hard, I can’t do it.”

I’m sure a lot of TED speakers feel very stressed when they have to go out. I remember listening to Brené Brown’s book about how stressed she was before she had to go speak before C-Suite executives. You think of people like that and you think they actually get nervous. You can’t imagine. I think almost every speaker I’ve spoken to says, “If you’re not just a little bit nervous or excited, you’re going to give a bad speech.” It’s that sense of anxious excitement that makes people get a little on edge, which makes for a more interesting talk. When I spoke at the SHRM19, we were talking about some of the things that hold people back. One of them is assumptions, which is the voice in your head.

It’s that nagging, “This is going to be too hard.” You’re going to be talked out of something. If you’re thinking of doing a Ted Talk or some other talk and you’ve talked yourself out of it, it’s that voice. I often refer to that psychological experiment and talk that people say if you hold a glass of water in your hand. Think of it this way, if I’m holding this in my hand and I hold it up to the ground and I ask them, “How heavy is this water?” I give them a minute to think about it. After a few seconds, they may yell out twelve ounces or sixteen ounces, whatever they think. I said, “It doesn’t matter. What matters is how long I hold it.”

If I hold onto it for a minute, it’s no big deal. It’s not that heavy. If I hold on to it for an hour, my arm starts to hurt a little bit. If I hold on it for a day, my arm is aching, I may be paralyzed. That’s what it is, how we are in our head with our assumptions. If you think you can’t speak, if you think you can’t do something, you talk yourself into inaction. That’s what I’m trying to do is get people to understand what’s paralyzing them in the workplace because we all have the voices in our heads. I’ve had guests on the show who were able to overcome that. Erik Weihenmayer comes to mind. He was the first blind man to hike all the top summits in the world, even river-rafted the Grand Canyon.

He’s the most amazing guy. He was a great guest on the show. He could easily talk to himself out of ever doing anything that amazing, saying, “The blind man can’t do this thing,” but he did do that thing and he didn’t let it hold him back. I think that a lot of people I’ve met have really had either a supportive family or other aspects that helped them get over things. I met Steve Wozniak, the Cofounder of Apple, had a book called iWoz where he talked about his father helping him create these unbelievable things from all the gadgets and cables, and he brought home from work. As I recall, his father was literally a rocket scientist. He helped him come together with all these technology devices to create things.

He explained why things were important, why you needed electricity, what that did and all the stories of Thomas Edison and all these background stories. We need an environment that promotes that and looks at what wonderful outcomes we have with Wozniak because a lot of us are held back. We don’t want to be the ones who aren’t like, “Think about social media. You want likes.” Everybody wants likes. If you’re being held back from being curious or from giving talks or whatever it is, you need to address what it is that’s holding you back. In my research on curiosity, I found that it was pretty evenly distributed across the four factors that fear, assumptions, technology, environment all hold people back.

It’s not overwhelmingly one factor over another, which is fascinating to me. I know a lot of people initially say fear when you ask them, but when we went through thousands of surveys and years of research, we really came up with those four things. That’s what I’m doing with the results and we’re working with organizations to get them to have everybody in the organization take the Curiosity Code Index to become more involved in asking questions and figuring out what it is that holds them back. What I love about the assessment is that it’s not going to put you in boxes. It’s not like a DISC where you’re D, I, S or C, that type of thing. This is saying, “Here are these issues, these are the issues within fear. These are the issues within assumptions, technology and environment that hold me back.”

TTL 591 | Preparing Speakers For TED
Preparing Speakers For TED: There’s so much that we can learn from having somebody watch what we do or pay attention to the way we communicate.


Why consultants are really interested in becoming certified to give this is because it’s making them much more in tune with what everybody needs now with innovation. You’re very relevant. I think DISC and emotional intelligence tests and all of those are great for certain things, but this is not what the CCI is. The CCI is much more like an engagement survey where you’re going to have a plan and you’re going to overcome some of these problems that are holding people back. What’s great is that this turns into the things that help people be more engaged, more innovative, more creative, and all the things that we talk about on this show.

What people do is they can go to this site, CuriosityCode.com and take the assessment. You don’t have to work for a company at the time to take it. You can go in and take it anytime you want, but if your company offers it, you can take it then as well. If you’re a consultant or somebody in HR reading this and you want to get certified to give it, I have certification classes where you can get five hours of SHRM recertification credit. Those are great because I’ve got them to the point where you only have half-a-day training. It’s asynchronous on the web anytime you want to take it. That’s great so you don’t have to travel to become certified. You get all of the information and you’re able to give seminars on your own afterward.

Seminars are important at your organization if you want to train everybody in the company because these are important activities that you can do. There’s a personal practices activity and a company leadership activity. Personally, you get to keep all your information private. It doesn’t have to go to the company. Nobody knows what your curiosity levels are and all that. The second activity, you can create a report for leadership. It’s a compilation of anonymous input that everybody in the training class gives about how we can fix all these issues we have in the workplace. Those issues are communication, teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, engagement, innovation, productivity, you name it. We know that all companies struggle with these things. That’s why a lot of people ask me why I created this assessment, why I wrote this book and why curiosity. I love that they’re asking because they’re curious.

That’s a good thing, but the real reason is there are all of these issues and it all comes back to curiosity. If we can work on that one thing, it’s so important for the overall health of the organization. I know management might think they’ve had all these assessments, maybe they don’t feel like they have the bandwidth, but you have to look at it in terms of can you afford not to do it? Do we want to train people if they’re going to leave? Would you rather have untrained people who weren’t qualified stay or train them in that and take the chance of having them leave? It’s that mentality because I think that we have to think about what the future is and it belongs to the curious.

If you want a truly innovative workplace, if you want to really make a difference in what you’re doing and realize that most of the Fortune 500 companies that were here in the ‘80s are gone. It takes figuring out how to remain relevant, innovative, creative, and it all comes down to curiosity. I wanted to tie that in at the end of the show because I thought that we talked about now was about stretching boundaries a little bit. Tricia does some of that amazing thing that a lot of people need help with. You have to face your fears sometimes and think, “Maybe I could do a TEDx Talk or maybe I could go to one of her events and learn how to do this choreographed way of speaking.”

She does some really unusual things and a lot of people can use help with all that. I hope you take time to look at her site and anybody who is on the show. If you’ve missed any of the past episodes, you can go to a DrDianeHamiltonRadio.com to listen to them. I think a lot of people go to my main site, DrDianeHamilton.com and go to the blog to read it because if you read it, you get the link to all of these things. Anything we talk about on the show, my website people put a great graphic and web links to everything. There are tweetable moments and it would be a good user experience to go to that part of the site. If you need more information about curiosity and Cracking the Curiosity Code or the Curiosity Code Index, that’s all in CuriosityCode.com.

It’s also at the top of my main website so you can find all that information all over the place. We’re on all the social media @DrDianeHamilton. You can go to YouTube, any place. It’s all @DrDianeHamilton. I hope to get more guests on like Tricia who are working to develop others in different areas. She’s won every award you can think of and directing and all the work that she’s done. It’s fascinating. I’m anxious to hear if anybody goes through your program, let me know how you liked it because a lot of people can use that. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Tricia Brouk

TTL 591 | Preparing Speakers For TEDTricia Brouk is an international award-winning director. She is works in theater, film and television. In addition to her work in the entertainment industry, she applies her expertise to the art of public speaking. She’s the executive producer of Speakers Who dare, a former TEDx producer. She choreographed Black Box on ABC, The Affair on Showtime, Rescue Me on Fox, and John Turturro’s Romance and Cigarettes, where she was awarded a Golden Thumb Award from Roger Ebert.

The series Sublets, won Best Comedy at the Vancouver Web-Festival. She curates and hosts the Speaker Salon in NYC, The Big Talk an award-winning podcast on iTunes and directs and produces The Big Talk Over Dinner a new tv series. She was recently awarded Top Director of 2019 by the International Association of Top Professionals and her documentary Right Livelihood A Journey to Here about the Buddhist Chaplain at Riker’s Island won Best Documentary Short at The Olympus Film Festival.


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