Interview: Mark Robinson
The journey of a TEDxEindhoven speaker
Mark Robinson was nervous. He was about to present in front of 300 people at TEDxEindhoven 2016. He knew it would be livestreamed. He knew it would be published on the TEDx YouTube channel. But he also knew his topic – “How to present to keep your audience’s attention”.
Mark’s journey started at, “I always was a disaster at giving presentations. I really hated it and I was shaking before every presentation”. As a Senior Software Consultant for TMC, Mark helps clients make their software more efficient, managing projects, consulting and even writing and testing software too. However, Mark also recognised that being able to present confidently would benefit his career. So he started seriously practising some techniques he learned and got to the point where he would provide informal coaching sessions for colleagues.
In March 2016, after giving a lunchtime talk on presentation techniques to colleagues at ASML, an attendee told Mark that his talk reminded them of a TED Talk. So Mark Googled TEDx. And the TEDxEindhoven Pitch Event came up, looking for speakers to pitch their topics for a chance to be selected to present at TEDxEindhoven 2016. Mark’s topic, “How to present to keep your audience’s attention” was accepted as one of the 13 pitch topics.
Mark recalls the pitch event. “I had practised a lot before the pitch, but even then I was nervous. I met up with many of the other pitchers beforehand; most seemed a lot more confident than me, which was ironic given my subject! However, the pitch itself went well. The audience was very responsive and laughed at the right moments.”
Two days later, Mark got an email from the TEDxEindhoven organisers, “We’ve selected our winners, and you are one of them!” Now the practise would really start. Mark spent the next two months improving his talk, sharing and reviewing it with his wife and colleagues, incorporating much of their feedback and attending group coaching and practising sessions with the TEDxEindhoven team and professional coach, Serge van Rooij.
“I practiced everywhere, in the shower, in the conference hall where the talk would actually happen and even on my bike ride to work which, since I did this out loud, must have looked very strange to oncoming cyclists! In total I must have practiced it about 100 times.”
– Mark Robinson
Finally, TEDxEindhoven 2016 arrived and Mark was waiting in the wings to present. He recalls the initial tension, how hard it was, but after the humour and laughter started, Mark also started to relax. Fifteen minutes later, the audience was loudly applauding as Mark walked off stage. He knew all his hard work had paid off.
Mark had fulfilled one of his dreams; to give a TEDx Talk. Shortly after, he started work on his other dream of starting his own business. Mark now offers presentation courses and coaching via Mark Robinson Training. Earlier this year, Mark was asked to join the TEDxEindhoven team to help assemble a line-up of speakers for TEDxEindhoven 2017. He is actively pursuing his goal to help the Eindhoven community, people making amazing technology and full of great ideas, communicate their ideas in an engaging way. Because Mark believes, “If I can learn it, anyone can”.