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In Digital Discussion With: Heidi De Wolf

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

Heidi De Wolf, who left her home country over 2 decades ago, has explored the value of family & community in the past and present and shared her research on loneliness in the UK.

Heidi De Wolf is a community-focused Cultural Anthropologist, applying her analytical & creative problem-solving expertise to all things culture, group dynamics & behaviours in her work as an independent Organisational Development & Change Consultant, as well as in her voluntary work & her own community.

Hello Heidi, could you tell us more about yourself? What is your story?

In 2019, I was proud to make it onto the TEDxBrayfordPool stage to speak about ways to feel connected in an unconnected world. It really was based on a few personal decisions I made throughout my life that had left me feeling disconnected, whether that was from family, from a familiar community or from work colleagues. It was intended to be a message about loneliness and a reflection on a simple action of organising a street party that had made a real difference to how I was feeling, but also – unexpectedly – rippled out positivity to my neighbours.

Just one year before, I would have never considered speaking at TEDx. I did not think I had a story to tell and felt very fearful of placing myself in the spotlight. A friend, who happens to be the amazing Andy Farenden, the Director and driving force behind TEDxBrayfordPool, insisted that I should give it a go. I think he must have read a few of my blogs. Writing comes fairly easy to me, but speaking had never been my forte. I am however so grateful for Andy’s persistence and eventually decided to face my fears of speaking in public and joined Lincolnshire Speakers, a local Public Speaking Club. Within 6 months, I was ready to apply as a TEDx speaker.

When I was told I had made the shortlist, the excitement took over my fears and I was reassured by the offer of coaching support provided by Richard Askham and Katy Baggott. I also found myself among a group of amazing people, all living through the same or similar emotions. While, as speakers, we have all returned to our every-day lives, it is amazing to feel part of the TEDxBrayfordPool Alumni, an ever-growing, warm family who remain connected (in an unconnected world) by this amazing experience.

It's so inspiring to hear about your TEDx Talk journey. Could you use three words to sum up the TEDx experience?




What is the most important lesson you learned from doing a TEDx Talk?

I learned a few very valuable life lessons ….

One of the many lessons learned is that …

Image from Wellness Outpost Twitter

I have been trying to live this more and more, and must say that the more you see fear as your friend, the easier it gets and the closer you get to connecting with your fullest potential.

Secondly, I’ve learned the power of simple messages that remind us of our humanity. One person’s story can be a lifeline for another person. I had the pleasure to be amazing some amazing storytellers, whose experiences positively inspired me. We all have a story that has to be told and an idea worth sharing!

How do you hope to inspire your audience?

I was happy to tell my story on the stage, though had not expected the audience to respond in the way they did. A fair few people approached me in the break to thank me and to tell me they would do more for the community they lived in. Who knew this would become more relevant than ever with the arrival of the pandemic.

Also, in the last few months, we have had an opportunity to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. I hope people have taken this opportunity to re-connect with their neighbours.

What tip would you give someone who is about to apply for TEDx Talk?

I had the privilege to volunteer at the TEDxBrayfordPool event. If you are unsure or have applied, but did not get shortlisted, volunteer!!! It is a great way to see how the event is run, you get to see the journey of the speakers and you will be more ready to step onto that stage next time.

If you have a chance to do a TEDx Talk again, what would be the topic and why?

I have loved the experience and would love to speak again in future, though probably about a very different topic. I would probably talk about something more work-related.

How has your life changed since you did a TEDx Talk?

Speaking at TEDxBrayfordPool and seeing the audience’s reaction has made me realise the power of a story told with confidence. I knew I had to continue working on my speaking skills which I am continuing to do as a member of Lincolnshire Speakers.

What is something people may not know about doing a TEDx Talk?

TEDxBrayfordPool is totally organised by volunteers, brought together by one person, Andy Farenden.

What do you think your next big project will be?

I continue to inspire others who may want to take to the stage.

Favourite TEDx Talk?

Too many to choose from, but if I narrow it down to TEDxBrayfordPool it has to be Lorena Hall’s talk – Showing Up for Life

Favourite book?

Usually the book I am reading at any given time. At the moment, I am revisiting The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University

You can watch Heidi's talk here


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