December 29, 2005

Toastmasters Speech

Tonight I make my first Toastmasters speech. Toastmasters is an organization that promotes public speaking by having members make speeches and critiquing each other. There is also a leadership component. Neil, a blogger I read frequently, is an active member of Toastmasters. I joined Toastmasters not because I have a fear of public speaking (actually, I'm pretty calm about it for the most part) but because I wanted to learn how to get "um," "uh," and "like" out of my vocabulary. In other words, I'd like to speak like an adult.

My speech tonight is the "Ice Breaker" speech, which is the first one in the manual. The manual walks you through a number of different speeches, each designed to teach you and give you an opportunity to practice something new. The Ice Breaker is basically an autobiographical speech. I plan to cover the major highlights in my adult life and I hope people find it interesting. I still have to practice it and make sure I'm within the time limit (4-6 minutes). The speech I've written is pretty long so I think I may have to cut it down, which is significantly easier than making it longer.

Anyway, wish me luck!

Good news--it went well! The audience was very engaged. I only did 3 things wrong--first, I read too much. I'd memorized a lot of it but once I got up there I got so nervous I kept compulsively referring back to my notes. Second, I said "excuse me" when I made a mistake. Minor, but apparently you're just supposed to keep going because when you say "excuse me" you're calling attention to a mistake many people wouldn't have caught in the first place. My third problem was that I didn't know what to do with my hands so I kept moving them around. I'll have to work on that for next time. All in all, it went as well as I'd hoped and everyone seemed very positive about the speech. They all especially commented on the text of the speech, which was cool to hear as well.

Posted by Shelby at December 29, 2005 11:13 AM


Posted by: Joel Sax at December 29, 2005 05:41 PM

The professor for my College and University Teaching class calls those throwaway words "fillers." I don't know if that's the technical term or not, but it prevents one from having to say "words like 'like'." ;)

Congrats on a successful first speech! Public speaking is definitely a challenge. I'll be struggling to get used to it once I start teaching.

Posted by: Erik at December 30, 2005 05:42 AM

These skills will come in handy when you publish your best selling novel and you are invited to speak at various events.

Posted by: Katrina at December 30, 2005 06:15 AM

Hats off to you Shelby. There are SO MANY gramattical errors I make in everyday speech and it drives me crazy. It is especially annoying when I'm at a big important meeting or when talking to customers. Thankfully, since I mostly deal with engineers, machinists, and programmers, they are even bigger speech offenders than I am.

Posted by: J. at December 30, 2005 07:17 AM

Didn't we work on that in college our last year? I vaguely recall that we had a penalty for everytime we said "like" or "um".

congrats on the speech!

Posted by: Mary at January 3, 2006 09:34 AM
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