Interview with Saga Norrby: ‘Because you care about something. If you care about what you talk about it’s going to show, and that’s what will reach people’
TEDxAUCollege Pitch Night 2018 is coming up! On the night of January 31st students and non-students alike will present their ideas, visions and stories in the AUC common room. By giving a three minute pitch to the audience and jury, they will fight for a spot on the TEDxAUCollege stage in March. Do you have an idea that you think other people ought to hear about, but never had the podium to share it? Or do you want to have a say in who’s speaking at the main event? Now is your chance!
To give you a sense of what it is like to participate in Pitch Night and give your own TED talk, TEDxAUCollege interviewed Saga Norrby. Norrby, a second-year AUC student, was one of the winners of last year’s Pitch Night and now part of the jury team of Pitch Night 2018. We asked her about her experiences last year, why you should apply and what she will be looking for this year as a jury.
Thank you for freeing up some time to talk to me today! First of all, why did you yourself apply for last year’s pitch night?
“For a long time, I have been a TED talk fan, which I think many people are, because they have a great concept, and I also know that I like to speak in front of people. So I thought here it is, sort of reachable, but still a challenge of course. And I thought: why not?”
Last year you held a TED talk on “Solving all our Problems by Treating Them as One”. How did you come up with this idea when you presented it at Pitch Night 2017?
“Yeah I didn’t come up with it for pitch night, it was rather oh: here is pitch night, which of my ideas am I going to talk about. And I am very engaged in sustainability issues, and have had struggles myself with caring for too many things at the same time. The way I have come to deal with this is by thinking of all the causes as the same cause, because they are very interrelated. So for the pitch night, and later the bigger talk I thought, well, that’s sort of the foundation that all my other sustainability ideas spring from that when it comes to it, everything, is connected and we have to keep that in mind. Because humans are sort of programmed to simplify things, I think that we really need to acknowledge the complexity a bit more, so that we don’t end up just treating symptoms instead of the underlying cause.”
Was the idea already thought out like this before you held your pitch?
“Now that I look at my talk later, I do notice that I hadn’t really formulated it as well as I maybe could do now. It [speaking at TEDxAUCollege] really helped me shape the idea. Yes, I had a seed of an idea before the talk but doing the talk and preparing for it absolutely made the idea into an actual idea and flourish.”
What was the most valuable thing you took away from speaking at TEDxAUCollege 2017?
“It’s hard for me to separate what I took away from my own talk and what I took away from just being part of the experience of the whole event. Because it was a very powerful feeling to be there and have all these people come together and when you talk about things that matter to you, it’s the biggest icebreaker of all. Because all of a sudden, all these people come up to you and they speak on a very meaningful level right away. And I don’t know, that was probably the case for the whole event, that they were there on that evening, and not so much just my talk. But I remember that was the feeling I had.”
Were there any opportunities that presented themselves after you held the talk?
“I actually got to hold another talk in June for, it’s originally Danish, it’s called StudentTalks. So they are also about speaking and focus on, as the name implies, students and their Amsterdam team were at the TEDx event, and they saw me and that I was a student and they reached out. Then I ended up talking at their main event.”
You’ve moved from the stage to the audience, being part of the jury this year. What will you be looking for during pitch night as a jury?
“Well, both content and execution. Those are the main things. That the speaker both has something to say and something that it seems can be extended from the 3 minutes to the 18 minutes. But also that they feel confident up there and that they are able to connect to the audience. How do you do that? I’d say breathe, because I remember that well, people have very different strategies, I tend to learn my manuscript by heart. Other people just go up there with a few bullet points in their heads and then they start talking. And in both cases, it happens easily that you know so well what you’re talking about, and you don’t want to bother people. Or take too much of their time or go beyond the three minutes that you have been allocated. But don’t worry about that, because it’s so much more important that people can actually follow you!
Do you have any tips on pitching for pitch night applicants/speakers?
“I tend to learn my talks by heart. I have heard, as feedback, that on the one hand everything I say makes sense. But of course it’s more natural if you come up with the phrasing as you go. So I’d say maybe try what works for you, and if you can do it, with just a few bullet points in mind, that’s what you should aim for. But don’t, a big no no, is to have a paper in front of you, then I would recommend learning it by heart instead if you find that your mind just goes blank when you’re standing up there. Last year I found the speaking coach to be very helpful.” [click here for some first-hand advice from the speakers coach!]
Thank you for all your insights, Saga! Before we conclude the interview: Can you tell us in one sentence why our readers should apply for Pitch Night?
“Because you care about something. If you care about what you talk about it’s going to show, and that’s what will reach people.”
Did you get as enthusiastic about Pitch Night as we are? Check out our Facebook event for more information and the speaker sign-up form! Is public speaking not your thing, but do you have another talent you would like to take to the stage? Sign up as a performer through this link. The deadline for both applications is Friday January 12th, so be quick!