From time to time we check in with past speakers from the eight years of events that TEDxSanAntonio has put together for our community. Back in 2013, one of our participants was Tom Tunstall, Research Director at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Tom shared his insights about the booming business of shale oil in the Eagle Ford area of south Texas, a topic critical to anyone concerned with the sustainability of America’s energy policy and future. Following are a few excerpts from that conversation.
What motivated you to apply to speak in the first place?
I was actually called by one of the organizers and encouraged to apply. It had not previously occurred to me to do so, but I’m glad I did.
Why is your subject matter important to you? What’s your sense of how the audience related to it?
We have done much research at UTSA’s Institute for Economic Development on the topic of the Eagle Ford and sustainability.
What thought process did you go through in preparation for the talk?
With a limit of ten minutes, I had to glean the choicest parcels, so to speak. On the first trial run with a timer, I had nearly twenty minutes of content, so I needed to whittle down quite a bit.
Any anxiety/concerns about the format or audience? Having presumably done similar talks but in a more bi-directional (Q/A) format, how do you find the two compare, either in feel for you or in effectiveness for the audience?
At the time, I was speaking publicly about 50 times a year. But TEDxSanAntonio was different. I didn’t realize how dependent I was on the slides to remind me what was next. Plus, I typically speak for about 40 minutes, not 10.
How effective did you find the curation process to be?
The curation was invaluable—the voice of experience combined with a fresh set of eyes on my content.
Any thoughts on the TEDx format/concept in general? Did you find time constraints to be an issue?
I thought the time constraint was a useful discipline to adhere to. Given the number of speakers, it has to be imposed.
Have there been any subsequent follow-ups to your talk? Opportunities to speak elsewhere? Interviews?
I was doing those anyway. Nonetheless, people are always impressed that I have a TEDx talk under my belt.
How has speaking at TEDxSanAntonio changed your life?
A TEDx talk adds to one’s credibility. Apparently it’s now on a lot of people’s bucket list. I knew it would have a long half-life on the Internet and correspondingly also knew I only had one shot to get it right.
What advice do you have for future applicants/speakers?
Practice, practice, practice. The curator and others were right: “You may do a lot of public speaking already, but this is different.” I could speak to all of the individual pieces of the talk, but I had to really rehearse to remember the transition points.
Anything important you think future speakers should know or keep in mind?
Keep the content interesting. Tell stories.
Is there anything you’d do differently next time? Or that you think that WE should do differently?
I thought it was a great experience and I was thrilled to be part of it.
See Tom’s full talk below: