Getting On the TED Stage: A Toastmaster’s Story

Get on the TED Talk Stage with Jenilee Taylor

Jenilee Taylor’s TED Talk link

Welcome back to Toastmasters 101.  We kick off this season with an interview with Jenilee Taylor, DTM, about her experience stepping into the red circle on the TEDx stage.

Kim (00:01):  Do you want to get on the Ted stage? The Ted platform has a huge audience in person. And on video that you may want to speak to today’s guest is generally Taylor, who has done exactly that. I’ve asked her to share her story about how to step onto the red circle of the Ted stage today on Toastmasters 101.


Do you want to find your message? Do you want to hone your skills to deliver it? Do you want to step onto the stage and change the world? Then you need Toastmasters in an hour, a week. We can teach you the skills that you need to refine your message and present it to the world. This is Toastmasters one-on-one. I’m your host. Kim Krajci.

Get On the TED Stage

If I have a most frequent guest, it is Jenilee Taylor. Jenilee is a DTM from my club. The Cuyahoga falls Toastmasters club in Northeastern, Ohio district 10 generally is a recently retired regional adviser. And she’s a very good friend. She’s celebrating an event, the anniversary of her Ted talk that she gave three years ago. I asked her to come on the show today to talk about Toastmasters and Ted talks. Hello, Jenilee. The reason I wanted to talk to you today is it’s a big anniversary.

Jenilee Taylor (01:33):

It is the third anniversary of my Ted talk,

Kim (01:38):

And that’s what I want to talk about. You’ve done something that a lot of people want to do. So why did you want to do the Ted talk? Let’s just start at the very beginning.

Jenilee Taylor (01:49):

You know, honestly, Kim, I never saw myself being a TEDx speaker. That was not something that I had on a list that was posted on my wall that I looked at every day. I did not wake up every morning saying Jenilee, you were going to stand in a red circle on a stage, terrified in front of hundreds of people waiting for a video to go out to the world.

Kim (02:20):

That wasn’t your goal.

Jenilee Taylor (02:22):

That was not my goal, but I ended up there.

Kim (02:26):

So why did you do that?

Jenilee Taylor (02:28):

I did it because people believed in me. I did it because I had a message to share. And that was how I could share my message.

Kim (02:38):

Tell me about your message. What did you want to tell?

Develop your message

Jenilee Taylor (02:40):

People? My message is about emotional glitter. Yes. Glitter, glitter. I know, I know I am the glitter person. I sneeze, glitter wherever I go. But emotional glitter, emotional glitter people are attracted to shiny objects, to flashy cars, to jewelry, to the best technology that there is out there. But what is it about another person that makes you want to connect with them? What makes you want to talk to someone else to get to know their story, to truly know who they are, that’s emotional glitter. So my message is about sharing your emotional glitter with someone else and taking in their emotional glitter to get to know them and how important that is to connect the world.

Kim (03:40):

So you have this method, you want to take it out to the world. So you decide that Ted is the platform you want to go. How did you prepare for your application

Jenilee Taylor (03:54):

First? And there are several different ways of applying for the events, the TEDx events, each one can structure the application process differently. Each independent TEDx event can have a different application or interview process. The event that I spoke at it was a written application and you had to submit a video and it was just a quick kind of table topic like video two to three minutes about your idea worth sharing. I stood in my living room and I recorded that video 18, 19 times. And I hated every single video I watched rewatched rerecorded analyzed, scrutinized every single video. And I finally just submitted it because the deadline was there.

Kim (05:03):

We don’t talk often in Toastmasters about repeating speeches. Did you see a lot of changes over 18 takes?

Jenilee Taylor (05:13):

No. I saw a no improvement over takes and it didn’t help that my poor husband was the one recording it and he just kept telling me, honey, no, you look great in this lighting. No, you sounded perfect. He was not helping to coach me whatsoever. He was just being supportive.

How dare he?!

But we submitted, we submitted the application and the video. And a few days later I was contacted and I was told that I was too polished.

Too Polished for TED?

No, I was told that I was too polished and they didn’t see enough me in the video. Ooh. I don’t know whether to be offended or proud for you. I didn’t, I, that it was the exact, I had to reread that email several times because I wasn’t quite sure which way did take it either. However, they gave me another chance and they told me to rerecord in one take and just talk from my heart about my idea.

Kim (06:27):

So authenticity was a very important factor to them in your presentation,

Jenilee Taylor (06:35):

Correct. Which ultimately does go back to the TEDx platform. A lot of professional speakers really don’t show up on that red circle because they have other platforms to share their ideas. You don’t go into a Ted application saying, oh, I’ve shared this idea in front of hundreds of audiences, because these are supposed to be new ideas, worth sharing. These aren’t ideas that you have shared with hundreds of audiences. These are new, fresh ideas,

Kim (07:16):

Emotional glitter is new. Correct. Did anybody say that before?

Jenilee Taylor (07:22):

I actually did search the Ted website, searched YouTube for other Ted videos that contained the word “glitter.” There were only two other Ted talks that contained the word glitter. At the time that I had submitted my application.

Kim (07:41):

You need to be unique. You need to be authentic. You need to have a message. That’s not already out there. Those are the criteria. That’s what you’d recommend somebody to have it in their Ted application. If they want to do this

Jenilee Taylor (07:59):


Kim (08:00):

After you got approved it, how long was it?

Jenilee Taylor (08:06):

It was really only a few months.

They did the event that I was part of. They brought in a coach, someone who had been a TEDx speaker before this individual worked one-on-one with each of the speakers to help craft their message and their presentation. Now a TEDx talk can be up to 18 minutes. The event where I spoke, they said that they wanted all of the talks to be around 12 minutes.

Kim (08:43):

So that was the goal of the coach was to help you develop it in that timeframe?


Stepping on the TED Stage

The day of, if it were me, I would be a blubbering mess. How did you deal with that day? How did you deal with the, the stress and the emotions?

Jenilee Taylor (09:01):

The organizers of the event were phenomenal. They brought in a massage therapist for all of us. They had the greenroom completely catered. They had asked all of our preferences of food, water brands, anything that we wanted was there, there were hair, makeup, everything brought in to take care of us. It was phenomenal standing in that room, getting ready. I was prepared. I had practice my talk over 200 times. I had massage the message. I had altered the words. I had everything down to a science, which can you know me better than most people am I speaking style? I wing it a lot.

Kim (10:00):

You do. And it’s one of the things that I like about you because you come across as very in the moment, very conversational, very exciting. And what happened that day?

Stage fright

Jenilee Taylor (10:14):

I wanted to wing it and I knew I couldn’t, I couldn’t wing it. The green room was upstairs at this theater. You had to walk down this really long hallway. You got to an elevator, rode the elevator downstairs and you show up at stage left all the way down that hallway.

My inner monologue is saying, why, why are you doing this? Why did they select you? This is a horrible idea. No one thought this through this. This is awful. Why are you, why are you doing this? You should just turn around. It’s not too late. They could just take an extended lunch. Really? This is awful.

I even thought to myself that it would be a better option for the elevator to get stuck in between the two floors. Then for me to end up beside the stage, standing beside the stage, I could not remember the first word of my talk. I was introduced. I stepped on stage. I hit the red circle and it just fell into place.

However, I also don’t like using PowerPoint in my speeches.

Kim (11:42):

There’s always something isn’t there.

Jenilee Taylor (11:45):

The clicking device for my PowerPoint was not connected. They had given me the wrong clicker cause we were using two and switching in between speakers. And I went to click to my first slide and I could see the prompter of the slides in front of me and it didn’t click and I’m still talking and it’s not going. And I click again, I click a little bit harder and then it jumps two slides because they finally connect to the slides.

So that threw me lightly, but I kept going and then I get to the middle of my talk and I’m on a roll. I’m feeling it. I’m in, I’m in my groove. I’m in my groove. The audience is responding. We’re in the moment together.

And I forget a word.

I’m used to winging it. I’m not used to have to remember specific words in the middle of my talk. I forget a word. And I pause a little too long.  I have my husband who also has my talk memorized at this point because he has also heard it over 200 times and I could see the panic hit his face because he knows that I don’t know the next word that comes. So on the video, I can see my long pause, but I don’t know if anybody else can see the long pause. And then I keep going and I hit the end.

Toastmasters and TED

Kim (13:30):

You’ve been a Toastmaster a long time,

Jenilee Taylor (13:32):

14 years, 14 years.

Kim (13:35):

You’ve gone up through the ranks. You’ve been many officers, all the officers. I believe now you have served as a, you’ve been in the district leadership. You’ve been a region advisor, you know, Toastmasters really well. How did Toastmasters help you with the Ted talk?

How did Toastmasters help you with the Ted talk?

Jenilee Taylor (13:57):

I strongly believe that Toastmasters is here to help guide and mold every single member towards their goals. That is the beauty of our organization and our program.

Kim (14:15):

So those masters gives people an experience that sometimes I find Toastmasters expect the world to now behave this way in the Toastmasters format. That’s not TED.

Jenilee Taylor (14:28):

Correct Toastmasters. The beauty of the organization, the beauty of the program is that it gives you the ability to grow and shape what you need out of the experience. You get to grow your skills. You get to mold and shape the experience for what you need. And that is why the organization has grown throughout the years. That’s why it is self paced.

Not everyone comes in to Toastmasters, wanting to give a TEDx talk. Some people won’t come into Toastmasters wanting to be able to introduce themselves at a networking meeting for work. Some people come into Toastmasters because of their boss makes them, and then they flourish.

So the beauty of Toastmasters is it prepares you for whatever your goal is. And Toastmasters prepared me to speak in that red circle.

Do I have other goals in life? Absolutely.

Will Toastmasters continue to prepare me for those goals? Absolutely.

I wouldn’t be in Toastmasters for over 14 years and continue to come week after week after week to meetings if I had already achieved all of my goals and Toastmasters has fulfilled them already.

Kim (16:09):

Thank you, Jenilee. I appreciate you taking time.

Jenilee Taylor (16:13):

Anytime Kim, I love being a guest on this show.

What’s your website?


Kim (16:22):

I’ll make sure that people get the link to the YouTube video. It’ll be in the website on the show notes, or you can go to HTTP:/ That’ll take you right to it. Thanks, Jenilee, for your time.

Jenilee Taylor (16:40):

Thanks, Kim

Kim (16:42):

Toastmasters 101 is a podcast production of Toastmasters District 10. Our music today is from Thanks again to Jenilee. And we’ll see you again soon on Toastmasters 101.