TEDx Glasgow 2017; what an adventure with my daughter!

It’s been over a month now since we welcomed speakers from all walks of life to the SEC Armadillo stage and since then our 2017 talks have already amounted a whopping 44,795 views worldwide (correct at time of writing – it will be more by the time you read this). We’ve been catching up with Gillian Docherty, CEO of Data Lab and one of our 2017 speakers to hear her views on her TEDx experience. Here’s what she had to say…

Gillian Docherty

They say never work with animals or children but I broke that rule presenting at TEDxGlasgow 2017 with my daughter Charley (aged 6 3/4)! I must admit doing a TEDx talk was on my bucket list, having watched many talks online and live at TEDxGlasgow in previous years. So, when the theme was announced this year ‘Lead or Follow’ I just had to apply.

Gillian Docherty 2037 TEDxGlasgow 2017 talk

So back in March I pulled together my application, which focused on the impact of technology on our lives, illustrated through a day in the life of my daughter in 20 years’ time. What will her day be like? What technology will she use? How will it help her manage her body and interact with her friends? How will she use it in the work she does? All interesting and partly frightening questions.

When I put in the application, I said to my daughter Charley; “mummy may be invited to make a talk soon and would you like to come on stage with me?” She replied; “oh no, that will be too scary!” Trying not to project my own nerves, I told her it would be loads of fun and she only needed to hold mummy’s hand and come on stage at the end. She asked if she needed to say anything and I told her that she didn’t have to if she didn’t want to, but if she did then she could say thank you to the audience. She again said it would be too scary and so we left it at that.

When I found out that my application had been successful and then Iain and the team told me that I would be the last speaker of the day, the nerves really hit. Moving to the larger venue – the SEC Armadillo – for this year’s event and with an anticipated 1800 attendees it was the biggest audience I would ever have spoken to. Mummy’s nerves really kicked in then. Keeping them hidden from Charley, I kept reinforcing to her that we were going to have a lot of fun.

TEDxGlasgow helped me get ready by supporting me with a fantastic coach, Justine. Justine and I met several times in the six weeks leading up to the event to help me get ready, working on pace, tone, pitch and obviously the content, to make sure I was prepared come June 2nd. Also, some old friends and great listeners helped with finishing touches the week before the big event. I also worked with a really creative graphics expert Steven to get my slides in the best shape possible.

I asked my family if they would like to come and (in solid sibling support) my brother was not convinced that I was worth paying the ticket price (which he pointed out was more than an Adele concert ticket). I told them it was so much more than just me that they’d be paying for. So, they stumped up the cash and, I’m thankful to report, they are now all big TEDx converts, who are already looking forward to next year’s event!

So, the week before event, over dinner Charley asked when the TEDx day was and said that she had been thinking and would like to say thank you to the audience whilst on stage. I asked why she had changed her mind and she calmly told me that her friend Jenni had said it would be boring just standing there and doing nothing. Inside I was thankful of playground support and help. So, now we were both ready to go.

Thursday 1st June arrived and Charley and I arrived late afternoon at the SEC Armadillo for rehearsals. I do not know whose nerves kicked in the most when we walked into the huge auditorium. We spent time running through the seats and exploring the first and second floor via escalators before we went on stage for our practice. While I got a chance to run through my first couple of minutes, Charley was rolling around in bubble wrap from the production crew. So, when I went to get her she had bits of bubble wrap in her hair. This was good preparation for avoiding becoming distracted! She also asked the crew to keep her some bubble wrap for tomorrow.

The day arrived, and I managed to enjoy some of the fantastic speakers during the morning and early afternoon sessions. When Charley arrived after school in a fresh uniform we went backstage to get ready and, thanks to the production crew, there was a box of bubble wrap ready for her.

Gillian Docherty 2037 TEDxGlasgow 2017

We went on stage to do our thing and I was so proud of Charley, who completely stole the show! It was like playing your joker card at the end; bringing on a cute 6-year-old, who did indeed say thank you to the audience.

At the after party it was so lovely to see so many people come to congratulate her and give her high fives! She certainly had a good story for show and tell at school the following Monday.

Thank you to Gurjit, Pauline, Iain, Cat, Jo, the rest of the TEDxGlasgow team, Justine and everyone who helped get Charley and I ready to help us do something that we will both remember and cherish for the rest of our lives.

You can watch Gillian and all the other TEDxGlasgow talks here.

  • Written by Cat Leaver
  • Posted on July, 13 2017

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