The speech: I tried to go another way on it, but my options were a comedic speech, a dramatic speech, or a technical speech for a nontechnical audience. For whatever reason right now, I don’t feel particularly funny. I’ve given funny speeches and gotten a lot of laughs, over the years at Toastmasters, but I’m not feeling material for this one, yet. The only dramatic speech I could think of is a variation of the speech I gave in a competition a month ago. It would need to be several minutes shorter, but because I gave it so recently, I think it would steal some of the drama for me to recraft it for this opportunity. In my mind, if you’re not holding your breath by the end, it’s not that dramatic or interesting, and why would they hold their breath, when they know the shape of the thing? And I could give a technical speech for a nontechnical audience, but I would prefer to play against type, in my current leadership role, and I think this would be a cop out.
I’m speaking this week at Toastmasters, and a few weeks ago, it occurred to me what I wanted to speak about. I’ve watched several speakers get up, obviously unprepared, and try to wing a speech. And it bugs me. It’s a waste of their opportunity. It’s a waste of the people’s time who are listening.
My process is that I write a draft of a speech several days before an event. Then I hone it, practicing it for a couple of days, getting the word count down, focusing on memorizing. After all, someone is going to the trouble of giving me thoughtful feedback about this speech. A room full of people is giving me their full attention. I want to respect that. Also, I only get to speak once a quarter in this club. I don’t want to get less than the full opportunity because I failed to prepare. I feel like I don’t even take enough time with it— I’ve always intended to start earlier, and I think I’d give better speeches, if I did.
So that has been my plan— to get up and talk about how giving a good speech is way harder than it looks, and the spontaneity of a strong delivery requires paradoxically more care and forethought than it seems to. I can draw on good examples from people in our club who had success in competitions— people who wrote a speech, then gave it a dozen or more times, crafting it just so. But the longer I think about this, the more it just sounds like I’m going to scold people, not inspire them to do more. I checked last night, and there’s no way to make this fit either of the manuals I’m working through, at the moment.
What do you think? Get up and give this speech, or go back to the drawing board?
Here’s the lesson I’ve been learning this week:
When I’m in pain, I need to factor that into what I expect of myself. You would not believe how stupid was the fall that resulted in my bruised tailbone. I was coming to a dead stop and lost my balance just as I was almost stopped, and fell without ceremony onto my butt. It was not a spectacular wipeout. And so I feel like it shouldn’t be affecting me. But it is. It hurts a lot, pretty much all the time, unless I’m standing still or laying down. I have a hard time sitting down, standing up, walking or bending, just to name a few. The level of pain is just below the threshold that would bring tears to my eyes the whole time I do any of those things, and it’s been going on now for four solid days.
Yesterday was a challenging day. I took over this week’s Toastmasters meeting because I was concerned that it was looking like a dumpster fire, and when the TM was confirmed to be MIA, the only person who stepped up would have been a newer member than we encourage for TM of the Day, and she’d have been a first-time TM. A meeting like this would be a baptism by fire, and I don’t want a new TM to have that experience, if it’s avoidable.
Over the weekend, I hit the gym. I tried to quit the gym awhile ago. After I got the dog, my primary way of exercising was walking him, and after we moved into the house, I felt like going to the gym was taking time from my responsibilities at home. So I went in and told them that it just didn’t work for my life anymore. They told me I could pause my membership for six months and see if I still felt the same way. Boys and girls, this is a trick, and I knew it, but frankly, I love to work out and take classes and swim indoors and I didn’t want to quit the gym, even though I wasn’t going. To me, it’s kind of a symbol that my physical health is a priority commitment for me, and the idea that I wouldn’t be investing in it at all made me nervous (whether it should have or not) that I’d backslide dramatically. So I paused it. And after six months, I started paying for it again. And still not going.
Almost immediately after I posted yesterday, Facebook started sending me emails. “A lot has happened since you last logged in!” “Your contact posted!” “Look at all these notifications you’re missing.” It’s interesting to me. I have blamed myself for turning to it in every quiet moment or every moment when I’m wanting distraction, but it’s clear that what I’ve heard about them thinking hard about how to get and keep your attention every second is true. And to the extent that I can recognize that it’s a proactive plan to steal my focus and keep me hooked, I think I may find it easier to resist, going forward.
In the spirit of yesterday’s reflection, I just presided over my second Toastmasters Board meeting. I can say with confidence that the challenges of my term have not been what I thought they would be, except in the sense that I knew it would be a lot of work, and it is.