I love Toastmasters. I joined Toastmasters to increase my public speaking skills. I presented three speeches to this group so far. With over 25 weekly members, the calendar for public speakers fills up quickly.
Whether you are already a member of Toastmasters, thinking about joining a chapter or simply curious about public speaking, there will be a golden nugget and insight for you as you reflect upon this extraordinary story. This experience happened to me at the previous Toastmasters meeting only a couple weeks ago. Looking back, I clearly see how it accelerated my awareness of my public speaking potential.
As you read this story, imagine being the character practicing your public speaking skills. How would you act? how would you feel? What would you think? And, what would you have done?
This is what transpired...
I received an email from my Toastmasters group “Noonshiners.” They were looking for a volunteer because a slot just opened up for a public speaking engagement the following day. I’ve been practicing my speech to be presented at the end of September for three weeks now and felt ready to take on this challenge. So I volunteered and added myself to the Toastmasters calendar.
The next morning I checked my mail 15 minutes before I left the house to go to Toastmasters. I received a letter from my mortgage company telling me they were going to stop my current pay plan. They said my bank returned their automatic withdrawal. I don’t know about you, but for me, this was a big fear I needed to take care of as soon as possible. And this fear was a distraction to my public speaking engagement. Can you imagine what may have been going through your mind if this was happening to you?
However, in my mind, not presenting my Toastmasters speech was not an option for me. So I practiced my public speaking one more time and was off to present my speech titled “Conversations with Doubt and Fear.”
I was number two of three people that signed up for speaking that day. I honestly felt my heart beating out of my chest as a couple of the members shook my hand to thank me for being a brave soul and volunteer at the last minute. No one could know how nervous I was to present this speech today. But this time, I wasn’t nervous about my speech. My fear was from the letter I received from the mortgage company. Can you relate to this?
While I was speaking, I realized how much I was living the “Conversations with Doubt and Fear.” How real it all was as I spoke. I mean, I even had a line in the speech when Doubt and Fear said to me “Kim, your heart is beating so fast, you can’t even hear yourself speak.” I was so aware of living everything I was speaking about, but it wasn't distracting . It was almost like I was an observer in my own experience.
At the end of my speech, everyone clapped their hands as I bowed, shook the Toastmasters hand and walked back to my seat. I knew I connected well because everyone laughed when I said something funny. I spoke without my notes, walked around the room with lots of eye contact to my audience of around 30 people. I did it!
My Evaluator said “Kim you jumped five levels today from your last speech. You came across as genuine, natural, everything flowed, you weren't nervous at all. And," she said "I learned so much from you. Everything was great. The only critique I even have for you is to pause a few more seconds before you ended the speech with thank you.” I couldn’t believe it. I never even heard a critique that good since I’ve been there.
Looking back, I realized so many things had to come into alignment for this to happen.
1. I volunteered at the last minute to do this speech three weeks earlier than planned.
2. I received a letter 15 minutes before going to present my speech from my mortgage company which drove my entire presentation.
3. I was speaking on the topic of “Doubt and Fear,” which again, accelerated my awareness of my speaking potential.
Oh, and, by the way, the letter from my mortgage company turned out to be a computer error.
“Wow,” I thought, “how cool is all this. How many things had to line up in the universe to make all that happen?” The reason I am writing this to you is this...
There is a reason to be grateful for everything in life, the good and the bad.
I am so grateful I volunteered to be the public speaker at Toastmasters that day. And, I am grateful for receiving the letter that filled me with fear and drove me to accelerate the awareness of my potential as a public speaker!
Here's another life lesson I learned while talking to my mentor. I told her I now have to write another speech as funny and impactful as that one. She said to me, "No Kim, it wasn't the speech, it was you. Whatever you did that day, do that in all your speeches."
As I write this blog, I realized two more nuggets for you as a take away...
1. When you are public speaking, be in the moment, think of a time that will put you in the same situation I was in that day. This is similar to what actors and actresses do when they are performing.
2. Begin practicing positive affirmations. I began practicing positive affirmations for all I want in my life. I started this three weeks prior to this event. One of my affirmations is "I am connecting well to my audience at Toastmasters." Could this also be a reason everything came into alignment?