No matter how experienced you think you are, if you want to broadcast your ideas and aspirations to the world, you need a Juanita for maximum impact.

Owen Ung
Surgeon | Breast Cancer Researcher | TEDx Speaker

“You need a Juanita for maximum impact.

When I got the email inviting me to give a TEDx Talk, I had just completed the world’s first breast reconstruction surgery using a 3D printed bioscaffold, instead of silicone.  In addition to overseeing this clinical trial, I was the Director of the Metro North Comprehensive Breast Cancer Institute, and there were many demands upon me in my scientific world. So, I left the email sitting in the inbox, planning to politely decline when I had time. Fortunately, I mentioned it to a couple of colleagues and family members, who talked me into accepting.
My reservation was simply whether I had the time for yet another speaker invitation. Being a doctor, an academic and a scientific researcher, I hadn’t initially appreciated the significant impact of TEDx and the importance of effectively communicating my ideas more broadly, and that it was an investment of time with the potential to pay off dramatically in spreading the word.
When I did agree to speak, I had no idea of the preparation required. To be honest, I might have baulked at the opportunity had I realised initially how much training and coaching would be involved. 

At the time I considered myself an experienced speaker having delivered many scientific papers and spoken and lectured extensively. 

However, the realisation hit home at the first meeting of my fellow TEDx invitees. I was blown away by the fabulous people around me. I resolved to commit to deliver the best possible TEDx Talk I could, and am so glad I did.

I had never worked with a speechwriter before, so I had no idea what to expect. As a professor I was not accustomed to having people review and query my speeches sentence by sentence, and sometimes word by word. However with each draft it became clear that we were honing my script to make our exciting and important medical idea accessible to a much broader audience, while also highlighting important underlying values including patient agency and equity, that could easily have gotten lost within scientific jargon.

It was also great working with a cohort of speakers. Juanita draws in an amazing group of people you share the speaker journey with. 

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never spoken publicly, or you do it every week – Juanita analyses exactly where you are, and what you need, and then gives it to you. Sometimes that’s positive affirmations, sometimes it’s perfectionist directives, and sometimes it’s a dose of tough love.

It’s rare for me to write a script for a presentation. After decades of speaking, I usually talk off the cuff.  But when you have a strict time limit, and every point you make needs to be fact-checked – it’s an entirely different level of preparation and professionalism. It could have been overwhelming, but I was surprised how quickly it came together. After just a few sessions Juanita and I had honed my idea into a single accessible sentence. After a few drafts, lots of jargon stripping, and discussions about which scientific content was essential and how best to explain it, we had a locked, fact-checked script. It was succinct, it was jargon free and accessible, and it was a speech worthy of the great idea, the research and the advancements my team and I had spent over a decade working on.

The script did all this, and it still sounded authentically me – which is something Juanita and I were both passionate about.

I can still deliver off the cuff, jargon-heavy presentations when speaking to advanced medical and scientific audiences, but I now have another presentation in my tool kit that allows me to explain my work to a more general audience. I am incredibly proud of the resulting TEDx Talk, which I am using extensively to explain our work to the world.

Juanita and the people I have met along the way have enriched me.  No one told me it was going to be easy, but the journey and experience was fulfilling and the prize more than compensates for the personal commitment. No matter how experienced you think you are, if you want to broadcast your ideas and aspirations to the world, you need a Juanita for maximum impact.