(Photo Credit: Clark Hodge. Conversketch: Karina Mullen)
 I walked off the stage as over 500 people applauded the TED Talk I had just delivered. Backstage, handshakes and high-fives came in from the other speakers and crew members. A quick thumbs-up text from my wife buzzed into my phone and the tweets poured in. The thrill of being on a TED stage pulsed through my veins.

What a massive opportunity? To be a speaker at a TEDx Event was an honor. It was quite humbling to be on the same stage as so many amazing people. I’m so glad I didn’t mess up … too badly. There were a few hiccups in the presentation, most of which I am the only person that will ever know.

Thus concluded about two months of preparations. For several weeks I forced myself to focus solely on the writing, rehearsing and polishing of my Talk. It was grueling. Normally, I tinker with several projects simultaneously, but not this time. During the several days that I spent writing, I felt as though I were tearing my soul out and laying it on paper. I came to understand why so many famous writers go mad. I would rant wildly to my wife about the importance of magic to me. Why was magic so vital to our culture? What is magic’s role in society? How do I approach magic? What the heck is magic anyway? I would write something and pitch it in the garbage, rewrite, pitch, write, pitch and so on.

With the gracious patience and help of my wife, we finally had a script. Now I had to commit it to memory. To be honest, I haven’t had to memorized lines for at least 12 years. It took me a few days to internalize the order and main points. It was a clumsy, ugly process, but I knew it was necessary. Eventually, through brute force, it came to be second nature. Then came the spit and polish.

As I reflect back on that process, I realize that it was quite different from anything I’d ever done before. Over the last twenty years, I’ve clocked hundreds of hours on stage. The difference is that this time I wasn’t performing magic, I was discussing something much more personal. I was revealing my innermost hopes, desires and aspirations to the world. As a magician, I tend to keep secrets. In my TED Talk, I was revealing my dreams.

In the end, I am proud of the work. Through the production of this Talk, I learned a lot about myself. Many good ideas found their way into my notebook, and I have a better grasp on why I love magic so much. I’m inspired to work harder than ever to produce amazing experiences for people. Many Thanks to the TEDxCSU Team for producing such a great event.