Awareness of Conditions & Disability, Journal (Media) Club, OTalk

#OTalk 2nd June – Bill Wong on his TEDx experience

Bill Wong on his TEDx experience (Focus on Autism)

Date:  02/06/2015   Host: @BillWongOT

Blog Post  –  Transcript

In late last year, I received a message from a TEDxGrandForks planning committee member, Hana Mattern (who also was an OT student at the time) about her inquiry to nominate me to do a TEDx talk. My initial thought at the time was, “Me? I am sure there are more OTs who are more qualified than me to be on that stage, especially since I barely started my third year in OT practice. This is probably a longer term CPD goal than right now.” But then I also thought, “Opportunities like this don’t come often. I know Terry Olivas De La O (whom some of you know was my first CPD mentor in OT who passed away in early 2014) will be mad at me if I say I am not confident enough to accept the challenge.” After some debate while Hana was explaining what I would be in for more, I decided to take the risk and go for an interview with the TEDxGrandForks team that took place 2 weeks later.

I was nervous before the interview. I was afraid that I wasn’t good enough to be chosen due to my qualifications are not good enough. To my surprise, I was notified that I was invited hours later to be a speaker for TEDxGrandForks.

Upon receiving the news, I knew I had a big mission on my hands. Not only I knew I was representing occupational therapy profession, but I also knew it was my biggest stage yet for public speaking. Fortunately, Carly Rogers (the OT who did a TEDx talk before me at UCLA) is one of my great friends. So, I unashamedly ask Carly for pointers, especially what I might expect that day.

Preparing the talk was the hardest thing I have ever done. I had to write the script over 5 times to best fit the conference theme. Being a non native speaker who tends to be wordy when writing also didn’t help. Fortunately, I was able to take advantage of the 3 hours that TEDxGrandForks has provided with a speech coach. She was able to make my message a lot more concise. My next job then was to practice and make sure I included all the points I want to say and remain composed. For someone who is in the 3rd percentile in short term memory with a tendency to speak fast when feeling nervous, this was another tough challenge. To combat that, I read the script over at least 20 times with three real time rehearsals before I arrived in Grand Forks the day before.

I was fine during the practice runs because I was confident that I could make the 15 minute time limit without a problem. However, after the second stage practice was over. I began to feel nervous. I began to down cup after cup of Zen tea that I brought as I was waiting more than 3 hours for my turn. I knew there were colleagues from all over the world watching, along with 200+ people in the live audience. When I was done, I was relieved because I felt that I passed the biggest test to me professionally yet.

After the TEDx talk, I wondered, “Why aren’t there more occupational therapy students come to share their stories and showcase #otdistinctvalue in public? Why aren’t the previous two TEDx talks by occupational therapists are not as well celebrated in our profession?”


So now comes my discussion questions:


1.     What do you all think of my TEDx talk overall? (Positive and constructive comments are accepted.)

2.     How can we get more occupational therapy students and practitioners on a stage such as TEDx?

3.     How can we empower service users in our own settings to overcome their obstacles?

4.     What is your plan to promote #otdistinctvalue to the public?

5.     Any other questions you might want to raise?


Bill Wong, OTD, OTR/L

And here’s Bill’s Talk.

(My apologies to Bill for the delay in posting this)

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