Archive for April 2006

My First Table Topics Speech

April 25, 2006


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Last night, I became a fully paid-up member of Maidenhead Speakers Club, my local Toastmasters club – and I gave my first “Table Topics” speech.

My wife Magdalena decided she wouldn’t really have time to take part because of the iminent baby (she is 33 weeks pregnant), so I was up against it by myself.

Well, it was all a bit nerve-racking, but I seemed to survive it OK.

Luckily, prior to my being chosen, one of the Maidenhead club, Steve, gave an excellent “educational” talk on giving impromptu speeches.

Knowing I’d soon be up there, giving a talk on a topic still to be decided, I tried to remember every little detail of Steve’s excellent talk. There was a lot to take in. My racing mind struggled, but I established it was a good thing to make pauses, convey confidence, never to apologise and … … and whole lot more which made my brain hurt.

Anyhow, Helen, our club president had asked me before if I might like to speak, so I knew in advance there was a good chance I would.

When it came to it, there were a couple of table topics speeches before mine; I had a bit of time to stew. And then I got up there.

I started off well. Bearing in mind that Steve had emphasised the importance of pauses, I started by going up and saying nothing, just rubbing my chin. Then, I said “Well, that’s my pause done and out of the way. Thanks for the advice, Steve. Now I can get on with my speech.”

I suppose this wasn’t really very funny, though it did get a laugh that sounded sincere and not too apologetic.

I waffled on for a while about how I wanted to become more confident and articulate, and how nerve-wracking this was for a newbie like me. I was beginning to repeat myself. My pulse was racing. I said something, and then realised it sounded all too familiar to me. I’d said the same thing just a few sentences ago. A sinking, desperate feeling started to engulf me.

And then: inspiration. I started to talk about how I’d come to this nerve-racking position.

I started just to tell a story, just as I would to a friend. My story started about with Magdalena’s going to the Toastmasters club in London. Then, once we’d moved to Maidenhead, I thought it’d be fun for us to do something together, and join Toastmasters in Maidenhead. So here I was, all by myself!

Well it wasn’t much better than my earlier joke, but it seemed to get a real laugh this time and I was on a roll.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a green light come on. I’d been up there a minute. A few more random anecdotes later, another, yellow light came on and I knew I was passed the critical point.

I tired to form some kind of natural conclusion (actually, I can’t remember a word of what I said here) before finishing off. I finished before the red light could come on, but I felt I’d done enough.

Someone said of my little talk later, “Colin talked eloquently and with confidence about wanting to talk eloquently and with confidence,” and I felt pretty good about that.

I’m all geared up for the next step. Most of the speakers are working their way through a book of exercises, each speech in turn focusing on a different skill such as “gesticulating” and “speaking confidently”.

The first of these is known as “The Icebreaker”.


Didn’t Make it This Week

April 10, 2006

Well my big start in the local Toastmasters has been postponed – for two weeks.

Something came up, and I couldn’t make it this week. The next meeting is in two weeks’ time.

I feel bad about it as I wanted to go to this meeting especially, it being only the second at Maidenhead. Still, Helen, President of the Maidenhead Speakers club, was very friendly about it.

I’ll be there next time – no excuses.