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Kiley Miller for TEDxOkoboji's 1st Annual Conference

November 18th, 2019 | Meet the Speakers

Kiley Miller

"How Saving Small Towns Soothes Our Souls"

1st Annual TEDxOkoboji Conference // 22 November 2019

It’s the final week. My voice is strong. My shirt is pressed. And one thought keeps running through my brain … I am so bored.

Who knows how many runs I’ve made through the script for my TEDx talk: 25, 50? Five bazillion and 7?

Each time I jump back in, there’s a sort of nauseous ‘not-again’ that wells up in my belly and chokes my throat.  I do love small towns, I do believe they soothe our spirit, but right now I’d rather converse on the length of my toenails.

Presumably, this is good. It means I’m fully rehearsed. I’ve got it down. Nothing can go wrong.

Except that it doesn’t mean anything of the sort. When Friday rolls around and I step under the lights, no amount of rehearsal will ensure energy and a centered mind. I might panic, I might get distracted, or I might just be tired.

This is where the audience comes in. I’m counting on the crowd to breathe life into me and the topic. If all goes well, a monologue becomes a dialogue, with listeners’ thoughts and opinions conveyed back to me on stage in the form of attentive postures, head nods, and maybe even some laughs. If it goes poorly, there will be other signals: sleepy eyes, furtive glances at watches, and—God forbid—cell phone glow.

Probably there will be some of both. The speaker’s job is to ignore the bad and bask in the good.

No matter which way it goes, though, one thing is certain: Come Saturday, I don’t have to rehearse this dadgum thing again.

Kiley Miller for TEDxOkoboji's 1st Annual Conference

September 4th, 2019 | Meet the Speakers

Kiley Miller

Attention, my fellow procrastinators: TED talks are tough.

Well, maybe not the talks so much, but the series of intermediate deadlines between my quixotic and vain decision to apply as a speaker and TEDxOkoboji on November 22nd are going to prove very troubling.

You see, I’m pretty confident, perhaps even cocky, about my ability to write, rehearse and deliver a speech. Provided the writing and rehearsing happens on the last night before the big event. I’ve never been able to find my muse without the motivating fire of impending disaster.  

But TED doesn’t work that way. It’s actually much better. Organizers have provided me and the other speakers with a set of milestones–Day XX: Title and summary; Day YY–Outline; Day ZZ–Video recording sent to coach–all meant to keep us on task and marching steadily toward success. (And yes, you read that right, we have a coach. The very fun and capable Andrea Olson.)

I appreciate the reason for such robust support. After all, organizers, speakers and audiences alike dread hearing a presenter flail and fail on the stage. Plus, the organization is really quite astounding. TED has this thing down to a science.  

But dang it, writing is about making choices, and I never choose until time is running out. Take me out to eat and I’ll order last. My cars have age spots. And most emphatically, I won’t commit to a word, sentence, paragraph or even unifying theme when there are still a few hours left for considering.

So, to the TEDx organizers, call this my mea culpa. I’ll be ready just as soon as I’m late.

1st Annual TEDxOkoboji Conference // Friday November 22, 2019