Posts filed under ‘speaking’
I just came upon a film from the 31st World Religions Conference held October 1, 2011, in which our pastor, Rick Pryce, was a speaker.
For more information on this conference www.worldreligionsconference.org
The beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect on accomplishments and look forward to the next step—the next contest season and a speech for the International speech contest particularly. As I prepare to take a next step towards the designation of Distinguished Toastmaster, still a lengthy journey, I remember my early days in Toastmasters.
The Ice Breaker is both the hardest and easiest speech, I was told. The hardest, to get up in front of the club and give my first one. The easiest was supposed to be talking about myself, but I would argue with that. Who wanted to hear about me and my little life? Apparently I was wrong.
February 5, 2004, marked on the Energetics educational schedule, the date my mentor Tammy booked me for my Ice Breaker. Many beads of sweat, indecision on my topic preceeded that day, and had I known it then, it was safe to say many revisions of a speech went the way of recycling bin or delete that previous month.
I had written a poem that month about a childhood memory, one that would go on to be published. It came to me one day as I drove home from an errand that the memory and poem would be a good topic for my speech. But what would my fellow club members care about my life?
I wrote a new speech, practised and rehearsed, including for my mentor and a fellow Toastmaster, and soon the day was upon me. Could I remember all I had written? Would it be like a school speech that took me to county level, when my mother had to prompt me when words and memory failed? No, I’ll not soon forget the day.
Lacking the grace of more experienced members, I held my notes tight in my hand. The pages shook like a leaf in a storm, just like my hand that held them. I’ve been told that my voice trembled too, and I sure know that my knees did. But never mind, I got through it, shook the Toastmasters’ hand and returned to my seat, glad to be done. I admit to feeling the fight or flight, but I just couldn’t leave. My legs would not have allowed me to move that far or that fast.
I made it to my seat somehow, but the experience wasn’t over. I couldn’t quite let go of the tension of preparing, waiting and anticipating. It was like the slinky toy we had at home, making its way down the stairs until all its momentum and energy were at a standstill. My body still tingled with that nervous energy.
The applause of my fellow members was like music to my ears. I remember feeling so relieved and thankful for their kind words that I had to hold back tears. Maybe just a few slid down my face. I’d just have to wait to see what my evaluator said about my performance.
The feedback was so encouraging that when I went home that night, I was tempted by a topic for the next speech, and on it went from there. I did not rush through the projects, but prepared carefully for each one, for my evaluation was at stake and so was my progress.
One speech at a time, I have continued to Advanced Communicator Gold as well as storytelling with a guild, at Open Story night and in public events, in giving workshops at both Write! Canada and Toastmaster conference and training events.
Had I stopped in 2004, I would not have learned how to manage the nervousness that comes from standing in front of a group of people and speaking—one of the greatest fears in the world, and one so many avoid because they just cannot bring themselves to do it. I’m so glad I started before my first book was published. It made promotion and speaking at the events so much more comfortable.
If I can do it, so can you!
Carolyn, who has since gone on to storytelling, and sometimes on the street corner in a public event
This week I had the opportunity to speak to a Kiwanis club in Kitchener. The setting was a meeting room in Winston Park, a retirement centre.
All members of this division have had a range of education and positions—high school teacher, lab technician, and I’m guessing, some labourers too. The average age of members, I was told, is about 72.
On further research, I learned that the mission of this international organization is to serve the children of the world. Their values include giving first thought to “the human and spiritual rather than to the material values of life” and to encourage living by the Golden Rule.
The meeting room was already set up when I arrived, and people chatted with each other while someone played lively music on the piano. A mirror on one long wall made the room look twice its size, and chairs lined up in short rows faced a lectern. Tables were ready for my books, and someone offered me coffee.
A large banner hung near the front displaying ribbons and badges that represented special events and projects they had supported. A very full banner, which John Wilson said is the second one they’ve filled.
Beth Waring, Vice-President, had told me that the meeting would begin with prayer and so it did. After a brief sing-along, they welcomed me to their meeting and began the business part of their meeting.
Another local group that had initiated the Meals on Wheels program was seeking help to deliver Christmas dinners. Kiwanis also supports the popular shoebox gift project run by Samaritan’s Purse.
My message, about adapting to change, or more accurately how to get a new job or work when the situation requires, may seem more fitted to younger members of the population who need to provide for a family and those for whom retirement is not yet an option. Still there was room for adapting and tailoring my message to people in their age group—where no member is looking for a new job to pay their bills.
What the current members of this club may be looking for is a way to adapt to the changes of being retired, whether it be health-related issues—and driving or not— while still contributing to society as they are able.
These members are so committed that they will keep coming as long as they are able, even if the bus or someone else has to provide the transportation.
When I talked about facing changes in jobs, I saw people nodding their heads. Some of them had indeed lost jobs or been edged out of work, then had to find a new one. They, too, had felt lost, stuck and frustrated at such times.
While their world was different than mine, they understood about not having work and needing it. They understood core values such as working to support their families and contributing to their community and country.
When I spoke of skills that people already have and figuring out how to move forward, they were listening too. And when I asked them to dream about a new place where they could useful, they were with me.
“Would you take on a leadership role in this organization?” I asked. “Could you mentor a young person from your years of work experience?”
Living in a world that often values the young over the older members of society, and addressing them as valued members who are still learning and contributing, I gained their appreciation and applause.
In conversation afterwards, I learned about some of the challenges they had faced. A woman who had been an x-ray technician had experienced the loss of a good job. A gentleman mentioned that losing a job made it hard for some to get up back up again; he thanked me for my positive message.
I may have been there to share my message, but in that room, I had kindred spirits.