My heart was racing. I was starting to panic. Less than thirty minutes until I had to set off for my Toastmasters meeting and I was only just finishing my speech prep.
I ran through my intro a few more times. What if I get up there and forget it all?! What if I mess up the ending?! The last thing I want is everyone pitying my appalling first effort.
Remember, it’s just a five minute speech that doesn’t have any consequence. You’re just there to learn I told myself. It doesn’t really help to calm my nerves but at least I’m seeing the big picture. I’m realising I might be able to just enjoy what happens. However it goes.
I head over to the meeting, butterflies in tow, but at least feeling a little calmer.
I try to think positive things. I start to remember how good it feels after it’s over and I can sit down. The uncomfortgasm is yet to come…
Prepping My Icebreaker Speech
Once you join up to Toastmasters, the first proper speech you’ll do is the Icebreaker. It’s there to ease you in to speaking in front of others by using a subject you’re familiar about – you!
I’d decided to call my speech “When I Grow Up, I Want To Be…” and talk about my jobs. It grew from an early memory of me wanting to be a part-time scientist and part-time professional golfer – a strange combination that I still joke about with my mum.
I knew it would be a complete disaster if I didn’t prep and I’d feel like I was letting myself down. So a few days before I was due to give my speech, I’d drafted a structure with the key things I would talk about.
On the day, I ran through it a few times in my head, changing things as I went along. I thought of an intro and ending for the speech as those can be the most important parts. One of the tips I read was to memorise them, so I practiced those bits more than the others.
I was planning on recording myself practice the whole thing a few times, but I only managed a couple of minutes just before I set off. It was useful though so will be one thing I do more of in future.
Lights, Camera, Action!
As it got closer to my slot, I was trying harder and harder to relax and smile. My evaluator stepped up to do my introduction, so I knew I had about a minute to go. This was it. Now or never.
I stepped up, shook hands with my evaluator, placed my notes on the lectern and took a deep breath.
The next thing I knew, the green timing card appeared and I was almost done. I talked about my final job, moved on to my ending and wrapped up.
My memory of it all is pretty hazy, so I’m glad I recorded it all on camera. I would usually keep this kind of thing hidden away somewhere, due to the fear of public ridicule, but not today. We all have to start somewhere so here’s my Icebreaker speech in all its no frills glory.
I’ve got plenty of learning points to take from this speech, one of which is the number of errrs. I averaged 5 per minute… ouch! I thought I was keeping them to a minimum, so that was a bit of a surprise!
Another thing I want to get better at is being more aware and present as I’m speaking. When the panic sets it, it’s so easy to “zone out”, simply focus on getting to the finish and be less aware of what’s going on. I’m sure this will come with more practice. It will also have the added bonus of me enjoying the process, rather than just feeling great when it’s over.
Soaking It Up
It’s amazing how something as simple as standing up in front of a few people and talking about yourself can be so uncomfortable and yet so rewarding. It’s definitely a sure-fire way to a damn good uncomfortgasm!
I’d recommend Toastmasters to anyone and there are clubs all over the UK and the world. If you have any questions about the meetings feel free to send them over to me. You can also visit toastmasters.org to for more information and to find your local club.