Recently our Executive Director Anya Cherneff shared the Empower Generation story via TEDx Zurich. We thought it’d be fun to share some of Anya’s insights about the experience of giving a TEDx talk in this mini interview!

When did you find out you’d be doing a talk / how did it come about?

I like to call this story: When Facebook Finally Paid Off!

I was in Nepal at our 2014 Capacity Building Workshop in March when I received a Facebook message from David Nydegger saying he’d nominated me to be a speaker at TEDx Zurich and would I be interested in talking to the the speakers team. David and I knew each other as we lived in the same apartment complex when I did a Princeton in Asia Fellowship in Penang, Malaysia and he shares a passion for human rights and gender equality.

What were you most nervous about?

EVERYTHING! This was the longest, largest professional speaking opportunity I’ve ever had.

More than 500 in the audience, live on the internet, at a major media broadcasting studio. I’d done a few start-up and competition pitches before but nothing on this scale. Honestly I felt terrified for a good three months of the process and my biggest fear was I wouldn’t do a good job sharing the Empower Generation story, and I’d sound like a frightened baby robot!

As a rule I like doing stuff rather than talking about it, and one of the challenges was convincing myself I could effectively communicate a complicated idea to people hearing it for the first time.

How did it feel sharing Empower Generation’s story and the reasons why we exist?

It felt amazing, exhilarating, insurmountable, terrifying and gratifying.

Empower Generation has been my everything for the past three years. After my talk I spent that day in a kind of shock – with people congratulating me, hugging me, telling me they were impressed, inspired, moved, that they wanted to donate or volunteer, and telling me about what they were doing to change to world.

I couldn’t really believe it was all happening and kept telling my husband (and co-founder of Empower Generation) Bennett that it felt surreal. It was the moment I’ve been waiting for to bring Empower Generation into the spotlight and the feeling of actually achieving that is hard to put into words.

Any tips for other TED and TEDx speakers?

Practice. A lot. Work with a coach and get as much information about the venue, audience, day-of layout, resources available, whatever background you can. Giving a talk with no teleprompter is HARD. If you take it seriously you will not regret it. Be prepared to take advantage of the day and meet as many of the audience members as you can, they’re an amazing group of people who will help bring your idea to the next level.

I also worked with an amazing coach Maggie Cleland who I found through Catchafire. She helped me craft my talk, memorize it, and deliver it with passion. Most importantly she worked with me to calm my nerves! I couldn’t have done it without her or the help of all my dear friends and family who sat through my talk a million times, tried (in vain) to make me funny, gave constructive feedback and coaxed me through anxiety, tried on a million dresses with me AND made me wear heels!

Watch and hear Anya’s talk: