Gemini-nominated Ziya Tong showcases her thirst for curiosity everyday as the co-host of Daily Planet, Canada’s daily science show. Bringing a wealth of knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm for science and the environment to the stage, Ziya addresses issues such as the shifting nature of time and space and our place within the universe in her riveting and eye-opening talks. Ziya tackles the Speakers’ Spotlight questionnaire, below:
What inspired you to want to be a speaker?
I love going to lectures, and on TV we often only get to speak in sound bytes, so the opportunity to take an idea, grow it, infuse it with personal passion and then share it, is what I truly love about public speaking.
Any advice for aspiring speakers?
Absolutely: *Practice it*. Really, you need to know your talk inside-out. There can be no surprises. If you skip a slide, or something malfunctions then you can just pick up at the next logical spot.
What do you like to leave audiences with?
The feeling of being inspired.
How do you prepare before a talk? Any special rituals? A good luck talisman?
Well, I actually read an interesting study on “choking,” the fear of screwing things up. The suggestion was to write out everything you think can possibly go wrong on a piece of paper; essentially empty out your anxieties. This way your mind no longer circles on those thoughts and frees you up to focus during your presentation.
Do you have an especially memorable event you can tell us about?
One of my favorite moments was emceeing the WWF Panda Ball. There were so many important people there: famous people, politicians, rock stars, CEOs. Having people come up afterwards and really get the importance of the work being done, and truly understand the mission of WWF was wonderful.
Any funny or embarrassing situations you found yourself in as a speaker?
Oh, I embarrass myself all the time. For the Professional Engineers Ontario talk that I did recently, I was sick as a dog–flu ridden. So I stood up there with a box of Kleenex and had to apologize for speaking, then blowing my nose, speaking, then blowing my nose…
Is there a charitable cause that you feel passionate about? Why?
WWF. I’m on the board of WWF Canada and their work is vital. Really, it’s about keeping our fellow lifeforms here on Planet Earth around. Given that we are currently in this midst of the Sixth Great Extinction, in my opinion it’s one of the most vital and important organizations to be a part of right now.
If you had to choose a new career, what would it be?
If I had to pick, I’d say adventurer…but really that’s what my job entails now.
Desert island album?
Brian Eno–Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks
Best subject in school?
Last book you read?
Sam Kean–Violinist’s Thumb
Last film you saw?
Act of Killing
I’ve met him so I can’t tell!