Occupational Therapy and TED Talks

TED and OT featuring Bill Wong

Finding inspiration is part of an OT’s work and TED Talks are one avenue well worth exploring. 

TED talks were always on the periphery of my awareness, until a couple of months ago. Two things happened. 1.) Bill Wong, one of my Twitter friends, represented OT in his very own TED talk. If you follow OT on Twitter, this was a viral event. 2.) I was introduced to the Brene Brown through an On Being interview. Her talk is one of the most viewed TEDs out there. Both of these brought TED into the spotlight for me and piqued my interest in TED as a resource for inspiring my OT work. 

Below is playlist of the talks I want to watch over the next few months.  They are in 2 categories: Talks FOR OTs and Talks BY OTs.  

I also had the opportunity to catch up with Bill about his experience giving his own TED talk, Fighting On: Overcoming an Autism Diagnosis. You an see his insights below. His talk is not yet available online, but I will be sure to put it in the comments when it is! 

TED Talks for Occupational Therapists

Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

Jill Bolte Taylor: My Stroke of Insight

Neil Burgess: How your Brain Tells You Where You are in Space

Temple Grandin: The World Needs all Kinds of Minds

Eliot Crane: The Mystery of Chronic Pain

Hugh Herr: The New Bionics That Let Us Run, Climb and Dance

Daniel Wolpert: The Real Reason for Brains

Maysoon Zayid: I Got 99 Problems…Palsy is Just One

Harry Evans and Chad Jenkins: Meet the Robots for Humanity

David Eagleman: Can We Create New Senses for Humans

Ken Robinson: How Schools Kill Creativity

TED Talks Given by Occupational Therapists

Denise Rotert: Occupational Therapy, It isn’t all Work

Carly Rogers: Surfing– Infinite Possibilities to Heal

Interview with Bill Wong, recent OT TEDx Speaker

Potential: How can occupational therapists become involved in the Ted community?

Bill: There are three ways to do it. One is being a volunteer for a Tedx event near you. You can be a volunteer on the day of the event, part of the planning committee, or even the social media person behind the event. Another way is actually speaking at the event. Three is participating in your local Tedx community’s open mic night (if they are available). This one can be opportunity for you to audition to be on the Tedx stage. If you don’t get in one year, you are at least on your local Tedx team’s radar for future years.

Bill you just gave your own Ted Talk in Grand Forks, how did this come about?

I have been establishing my online presence in OT for quite a while before this- as someone in OT who specializes in autism (because of my lived experiences with it) and social media (particularly Pinterest and Twitter). That caught the eye of an OT student at UND, who happened to also be on the TedxGrandForks planning committee. She approached me about the idea of potentially getting on Tedx. I accepted her offer to nominate me to the committee in last October. Two weeks later, I got a Skype interview from the entire TedxGrandForks team. Later that night, I received an official invitation to present at TedxGrandForks on February of this year.

What did you learn from this experience?

Several things…

• My hard work on my public speaking skills have paid off. My public speaking skills before OT school were a mess. I would lose composure easily. My eye contact would waver. I would have a hard time keeping my adrenaline in check. But, I know in order to be a complete leader in the occupational therapy profession, my public speaking skills needed to improve. Over the past 4 years, I have challenged myself a little more so that I can be confident on a stage like TED- from conference presentations to guest lectures. I have seen my style as a public speaker evolve over time as I become more comfortable.

• Who you surround yourself in the occupational therapy profession will define who you are. Although I am friends with many occupational therapy students and practitioners across the globe, I particularly want to connect with peers who have made the AOTA Emerging Leaders Program, as well as practitioners who are FAOTA’s or have a strong track record of success and accomplishments. My reason of doing that is to push myself to at least get to where they are, if not surpass them. Yes, it has created some friendly competition amongst such friends because of that. But, I believe that these competitions will end up doing our profession a lot of good in moving it forward in the long run.

• Today’s occupational therapy leaders must not only have a strong online presence in social media in the occupational therapy profession, but also outside of it. After all, we might do great work in the occupational therapy profession, but not many people will know about it without using social media to spread the word. Lastly, I believe we have to be in touch with consumers and caregivers who might utilize our services more. The reason is that the consumers and caregivers can find us easier than before. Having such dialogues with the communities we serve can help us advocate for our profession better.

You have also presented at OT conferences at the state, national and international level, what advice do you have for other occupational therapists interested in pursuing speaking events?

I have several pointers.

• Find areas that you are passionate about. Then, try to be as up to date as possible on these areas. Last thing you want is for your information to be considered as yesterday’s news. Plus, it’s easier to talk about things you like anyway.

• Have a good understanding of what is a just right challenge for you. If you need partners to help make the task less overwhelming, it’s OK. If AOTA is too big a stage for you, then step down and do workshops at your state association first.

• After each presentation, reflect on what you did well and what you didn’t do well. Take note of those and try to make adjustments next time.

Anything else?

Generating a strong online presence isn’t something that will happen overnight. You need to build it one person at a time. Also, since we are talking about the occupational therapy profession, your real life work and offline presence is really important. Otherwise, you are just going to be a fluff and puff show. Also, you must post something good almost daily- particularly if it’s Facebook and Twitter. Otherwise, your account will essentially be a waste of space.