Last weekend I assisted with prepping some of the speakers for TEDxSanDiego, a wonderful TEDx run by Jack Abbott, a longtime marketing executive in the area.  Jack invited me to work with four specific speakers in preparing their talks and then to the rehearsal to help gently guide any other speakers in need of help.

I got handed the four speakers who were dealing in “chips.”  Technologies that are almost science fiction-like, but are being tested and refined to go to market in the very near future.  They included:

– Thought Controlled Computing:  Using a headband that reads your brainwaves and then allows you to control various devices (and or/other behaviors) just by thinking.

– Single blood test for all cancers:  That’s right, one drop of blood they hope will screen for all cancers.

– Contact lenses to detect glaucoma: To date, the only test for glaucoma is the “puff” test you get once a year.  These new lenses send a wireless signal to capture the data around eye pressure, which is the indicator of glaucoma onset.

– Epidermal Electronic Tattoos:  No more wires on preemies or on their mother’s belly before they are born.  Monitoring and scanning patches that affix to your skin and that allow you to capture (again, wirelessly, see the trend?) data without being connected to any wires.

These scientists, Ariel Garten, Raj Krishan, Kaweh Mansouri and Todd Coleman didn’t know each other at all. But they all shared a few commonalities on how they were preparing for their big talks:

– They were armed with incredible data about their discoveries, but each had to work extra hard to incorporate stories to bring them to life.

– Each had to really carve out time to work on their talks — most of them ended up using weekends to write, edit and rehearse.

– Speaking of rehearsal, it was a make-or-break time for each of them.  One had never used a confidence monitor before (the screen that sits in front of you that projects your slides) and so he spent most of his time looking backwards (yikes!); two of them had technically challenging demonstrations that took a team of folks and extra effort to work out;  and all of them greatly benefited from me recording them (just on my iPhone) and playing back the “tape” to see where improvements could be made.

I’m personally grateful for the opportunity that Jack and his awesome team at TEDxSanDiego gave me to work with these massively talented  researchers. Nothing like a good dose of intense science, technology and sun to kick off the holiday season!

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