Tara Winkler’s road to TEDx Sydney – part one

NIDA Corporate is working with Tara Winkler, the Managing Director of the Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT) which she established with Jedtha Pon in 2007 in order to rescue fourteen children from a corrupt and abusive orphanage. In 2011 Tara was awarded NSW Young Australian of the Year in recognition of her work with CCT, she has been featured twice on Australian Story and her first book, How (Not) to Start an Orphanage, is being published in April 2016.

Tara’s next challenge is speaking at the upcoming TEDx Sydney conference on Wednesday 25 May 2016. 

It has been a pleasure to be working with her to prepare for this big public speaking opportunity and she will be sharing her experience preparing for this speech with us over the next month through a series of personal blogs.


When I first set up the Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT) in 2007, I fully understood the responsibilities I was taking on. I knew it was a long-term and life-changing commitment. What I couldn’t anticipate, however, was the public life that would come along with it.

Recently I was offered the chance to speak at Tedx Sydney. Being invited to give a talk on the TED stage was both one of the most exciting and the most terrifying moments of my life. As a TED super-fan the opportunity to give a talk myself is one of the greatest honours I can think of. It’s an amazing platform to hopefully raise some much needed awareness about the global ‘orphanage’ crisis.

But there was one big problem standing in my way — a mortal fear of public speaking. It’s fair to say that I was possibly more scared of public speaking in front of the nearly 5000-strong crowd at the Sydney Opera House than I was of death itself.

But that’s all changed now.

I can hardly believe it would be possible for me to ever utter those words…

How did it happen?

Thanks to the incredibly generous support of NIDA Corporate who have sponsored me with one-on-one training (aka public-speaking boot camp), I have overcome many of my fears around public speaking. My coach, Antony Grgas, is now my personal guru. He has transformed the innately terrifying into something I’m looking forward to, and perhaps even enjoy. We focussed on applying physical, vocal and imaginative exercises to help me build confidence and present without being distracted by my nerves.

To anyone who is looking to improve their presenting skills, or overcome a fear of public speaking, I simply cannot recommend NIDA Corporate highly enough. The training I have completed so far has been truly life-changing.

I have more training ahead in April and May and will be blogging more about my experiences on the ‘road to TED’. If you’re interested in finding out more about my experience at NIDA Corporate, sign up to CCT’s newsletter and follow my journey.

All views expressed are authors own.

Tara Winkler About this author: Tara Winkler, Managing Director of the Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT)