TEDx: Sleep well, dream well, be fearless (almost)

I delivered my first TEDx presentation at the end of June! It was a strange experience, largely positive, but admittedly not entirely. As per my previous post re: enjoying presenting, I thoroughly enjoy communicating with people via presentations, as well as the discussions that typically follow. The presentation format for the TEDx event was unusual, in that a script was required. That works for some people, of course, but it’s not my personal style. Still, I appreciate that TED have a brand and a reputation for quality to protect, so I went with it. Co-presenting peers were fantastic and supportive, and a series of prep workshops brought us all together. The organisation was great too. Professional! And, I can say with hand-on-heart pride, all in Lincoln, which is a real boon for the city.

The script created a bit of pressure for me. I’m usually very relaxed about presenting, but having a script created a little nervousness. When the time came, the position “on the red spot” was vastly different to how I had imagined it would be, as well as being unlike anything I had done before. The infamous red spot determined our strictly static position, so cameras could capture the presentation fully. (My step count increases massively when I present, usually, so that was odd too!) Spotlights were literally blinding, so I couldn’t see the audience at all, which made connecting with listeners quite challenging. The monitor was a distance away, so I couldn’t see my slides easily (I’ll blame my blindness on that, rather than any technicians involved in the set-up). The microphone was really loud, so I could only hear the amplified sound that the audience could hear, rather than myself at all. It collectively provided really twisted feedback on the reality of the situation. As such I forgot my script, but blagged my way through, so hopefully the final version will be OK, though I’m not looking forward to seeing it!

Despite that, the experience was fantastic and the camaraderie was genuine and fun. If anyone’s considering an opportunity to do a TED(x) talk, go for it. It’s a pressured exercise, but with great potential. As an academic I wholeheartedly realise that my ideas could not be shared better or more widely than via YouTube with TED’s endorsement.

The idea? That we need to sleep in order to dream. Dreams reflect the processes of emotional memory consolidation, and as such, emotion regulation. The presentation focuses on my own work exploring fragmentation of autobiographical memories during sleep, and their reorganisation, ultimately by processes of hyperassociativity (more on that later). The take home message is that sleep cannot be compromised. It doesn’t matter if we remember our dreams or not; that doesn’t seem to be a crucial part of the process. If we are sleeping well, we are certainly dreaming. And therefore our emotional memories are being regulated.

If I can convey that, I’ll be happy. Guess I’ll have to check out the dreaded YouTube clip as and when it’s available.

(The talk has to be approved by TED but I’ll share it once it’s ready.)

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