We all speak. Some beautifully, some loquaciously, some haltingly.
Most of us are comfortable speaking in 1-on-1 conversations, in small groups, and in meetings with people we know. But many of us (myself included) find “public speaking” a whole different game.
Public speaking—giving a “speech”—freaks. us. out.
Some people are more scared of public speaking than they are of dying (I wouldn’t go that far)!
Filmmakers Paul Galichia and Brian Weidling decided to explore the fear of public speaking by following the journey of the 10 finalists in the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking.
Their 90-minute documentary delivers compelling stories of ordinary people who decided not only to improve their public speaking skills, but to make a mark on the world with them. It will make you laugh, it will make you squirm, it will engender compassion. And take some Kleenex.
Every person I’ve talked to who has seen the film has raved about it. In the car on the way home, my husband and I couldn’t stop analyzing the characters and their portrayal. When I got home, I immediately sent an email to the president of my Toastmasters club to say we needed to host a screening—for as many people as possible.
If you need some motivation, inspiration, or affirmation, or if you just like a really well-done film, go see SPEAK. Then let me know what you think.
Susan Daniels recently nominated me for the Inspiring Blogger award. As I said to Susan, I’d like to send it right back her direction, because I am so impressed with the volume and quality of her writing. Thank you to Susan for the very kind compliment.
The rules, as I understand them: if you accept the award, thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog, tell seven things about yourself, and then nominate 15 more blogs for the award. Here goes.
Seven things about me:
- I am currently reading The E-Myth Revisited. It’s about entrepreneurs and the mistakes they typically make. I’ve heard of it so many times I thought I’d better give it a look-see. Mediocre writing, but good business concepts.
- I get irritated by business books that tell “stories.” Who Moved My Cheese? is the worst offender.
- I am a rower and a coxswain. I met my husband through the Des Moines Rowing Club. We mostly row on our ergs in the basement now. It’s just not the same as being on the water…
- We had a friend visit for the weekend. Thank goodness for company or the house would never get thoroughly cleaned.
- I made one batch of tomato soup and one batch of tomato sauce yesterday, and would have made more if I hadn’t run out of onions and tomato paste.
- I have red leather desk accessories. 🙂
- My favorite affirmation these days is “I am an endless source of creativity!” It helps me get unstuck when working on troublesome poems.
15 blogs that inspire me:
- Fighting with Faith
- SuzieQ Cottage
- Sell, Lead, Succeed!
- Linguistic Legerdemain
- frangipani singaporenicum
- henry’s home for wandering trees
- Charles Gupton
When you join a Toastmasters club, you start working through the “Competent Communication” manual, a series of 10 speeches, each with a different focus (organization, vocal variety, gestures, etc.), culminating in a big “inspirational” speech to wrap it all together. After two years of procrastination, I finally wrapped up my 10th speech yesterday. And you know what? I was OK!
I roll my eyes at the name of this particular Toastmasters award – Competent Communicator, or CC. I’d like to think I’ve been “competent” for quite some time—after all I’ve been in the business world for (cough) a few years, I’ve run a few meetings, facilitated a few strategy sessions. Sit with me one-on-one and I’d say I’m even better than “competent”—at least “decent” if not “pretty good.”
But public speaking—giving a formal presentation—has always made me nervous. (I am not alone—depending on what list you read, fear of public speaking ranks right up there with fear of dying.) So I figured when I started my own business, I’d better spend a little time getting over that particular fear—or at least learning to hide it better. Thus, Toastmasters.
A few observations about the journey to competence…
- Early on, I took a presentation skills class from a really good speech coach. I’ve taken public speaking classes before, but somehow in this class the messages came through differently and resonated differently. Perhaps a case of “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
- Recently I had a chance to watch this speech coach rehearse for an hour-long keynote address. Something about the process shifted my thinking from “presentation” to “performance.” Hard to even describe what happened, but I recall a similar experience watching Olympic downhill skiers many years ago when I was still learning to ski—“Oh, that’s the rhythm/motion/flow I’m supposed to have.” The next day on the hill—way more better!
- I’ve written about affirmations on this blog. One of my affirmations this year has been “I have a voice that others need to hear.” That shift in my mindset has helped me stop worrying about what other people think and simply focus on what I need to say—after all, they “need to hear” me. How could I refuse them? 🙂
- I took the opportunity to read a few of my poems aloud for the vocal variety speech, which really was my first foray into “performance” rather than “presentation.”
- I practiced this last speech a LOT. I’ll be the first to admit, most of my speeches got nowhere near this level of preparation. Our club has a tradition of giving a standing ovation for the 10th speech—so I figured I’d better earn it. And, go figure, practice made a difference!
- Finally, the “performance” of the speech became much easier because I had some passion for the topic. Since I liked what I was talking about, my facial expressions and gestures and movements more easily reflected that. No stilted feeling of “Oh, I need to put a gesture HERE.” I was in the “flow.”
Yesterday’s poem was written a couple months back, but was part of the process to reach speech #10. Yesterday I did intone my “first true words” in a manner of speaking. I’ll try to repurpose some of those words in an upcoming blog entry. I mean, really, who would not want to read “All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Science Fiction”??
Here’s to Toastmasters—to competence and beyond!