TED Talks, Lucky Knickers and Big Leaps

Late last year I embarked on one of the biggest challenges of my personal life and professional career – getting on stage and delivering a TED talk. I’ve recently been reflecting on that experience and it’s been getting me thinking again about leaps, truth, trust and negotiation.

Michelle Gallaher at TED talk Melbourne discussing negotiation

I’ve always believed in practising what you preach and working in science and social media is full of big steps, and leaps of faith. For many companies, entering the world of social media is a big step. I get that. And as a member of the public, trusting politicians and researchers to listen to you and your ethical concerns is a huge leap of faith. I have to say, as far as physical leaps go, I’ve got absolutely no desire to do anything like jump out of a plane anymore. I don’t need to. I’ve stood in front of almost 900 people in one of the largest auditoriums in Melbourne and delivered a speech for 18 minutes on the negotiation of consent. Which is enough adrenaline to last a lifetime.

I had no notes in my hand, no cue cards or screen in front of me. I used no slide presentation. It was just me. And my ideas. Now that takes real courage. My story is an important one, and I was glad I was there to tell it. What is the public’s role when it comes to deciding what is appropriate (or not) to research? Or should we leave this just to politicians and commercially driven scientists?

Michelle Gallaher at TED talk Melbourne discussing social media

The morning of the talk I couldn’t eat. However, I had these amazing red suede heels on and a red patent leather belt. It’s important to feel like you look great. I’m also superstitious and I have this pair of lucky knickers that I’ve had for almost 20 years. They got me my first senior executive role before my 30th birthday. They have been responsible for a lot of extraordinarily good experiences in my life. I only get them out for really special occasions now – and they delivered for TED. I expect it takes about 18 minutes to parachute to earth from a moving plane. It took me 18 minutes to climb to one of the most wonderful and thrilling points in my life. The endorphins last for hours and hours afterwards. The high never leaves. The enduring gain is intellectual confidence. You should try it.

Michelle Gallaher

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