Tag Archives: public speaking

Comfort Zone


Between a sinus infection and a life that keeps on keeping on, I’ve missed coming in here and chatting with you, dear blogging friend.

I don’t remember when I last had a sinus infection, but this one wiped me out. Will power meant nothing. I simply had to stop, too tired to focus.

My Toastmasters group also needed attention, as I sort of abandoned my duties there for the past month. So, it was nice to return and evaluate a speech.

Moreover, I am working on a speech, which I will deliver October 14th. Amazing how I actually enjoy speaking in public now, something that couldn’t have been further from the truth two years ago. The nerves are still kicking my gut, but they seem to settle down after the first few words are spoken. 

I try to envision the speech as a storytelling event, and storytelling, writing, is what I love.

I’m always interested in similar experiences, or ways to conquer such fears. Public speaking, or any sort of public interaction that requires we step outside our comfort zone, how do you handle it?

It Finally Happened!


It finally happened. I gave my public speech.

Thank you, dear readers, for putting up with the previous blogs throughout my preparation. As promised, I’m here to report back.  (Sorry about the photo quality. I had no control over picture-taking.) 

While I had spoken at my local club before (twenty members), this speech took place at Toastmasters Division — an audience of 150 people.

Before taking the stage, nervousness came often like the flick of a light switch, forced out by many deep breaths.  The butterflies refused to fly in formation, playing havoc with my body temperature — hot one moment, freezing the next.

When The Chair called my name, I had no choice but to ignore everything unrelated to the speech. Either that or run for the door. The first step was hard, the second not so bad. Once the words took mercy on me and came out, the gestures and eye contact followed. To my surprise, everything gelled together beautifully.

The speech “Happiness Right Now,” centered on the idea of marketing concepts designed to delve into our psyche; the theory of 95% dedicated to marketing (visual textures, colorful lights, music) and 5% of capital to quality.  

The call to action, something every speech must incorporate (I’m told), concluded: “it’s up to us — all of us — to decide quality matters.”

Applause never sounded better, mostly because the sound signaled The End. One hurdle cleared, many to go. And only at the end of my speech, the pesky butterflies settled. I was mentally and physically drained, but it didn’t matter anymore. I was done.

You know what else I learned? Or re-learned? As writers, and generally speaking, we have to put ourselves out there. What’s there to lose? Maybe complacency? :)

So tell me, when was the last time you put yourself out there?

Public Speaking

How comfortable are you with public speaking?

After much thought, I joined Toastmasters International — a public speaking training program with chapters all over the world. A friend belonged to the club years ago, and she’s been raving about it ever since.

I wouldn’t necessarily say public speaking is my strength. I don’t mind speaking in front of people — small groups of friends, if possible. 

Toastmasters goes beyond that. A speech is judged (in friendly terms), there is a grammarian present, a table topics section of the meeting where each speaker is asked a question and is required to give a two-minute answer (speech). And the table topics section is separate from the main speech — a warm-up exercise.

There are evaluators, and a vote at the end (best speaker, best evaluator). But the main objective is to become comfortable speaking in front of complete strangers. To grow. There are district-wide competitions (those usually center on inspirational speeches), state-wide, national and even international. This year, the international contest takes place in Malaysia.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I’m new.  Last week I delivered my first speech, appropriately titled The Icebreaker. An easy one, according to the members, since all you have to do is talk about yourself.

And that’s what I did for nearly six minutes (one gets timed, by the way). Everyone was nice and congratulatory at the end. But I’m just glad I got through it without turning into a mannequin on stage — there’s no podium, the speaker must use the whole stage.

We meet twice a month, and so far so good. My next speech will be about inspiration, and I think I can so totally talk about that.

So, how comfortable are you with public speaking?


Image: the bizzybuzz.com