Bill's Blog

Public Speaking

When 2 Minutes Was Too Long

I have recently joined an international organisation called Toastmasters. Their objective is to help people become more confident at public speaking. The Leamington Spa branch of Toastmasters are called Spa Speakers and can be found here.

Speaking in public is something I am not naturally good at – I get my words mixed up and my thought process gets cluttered. It is out of my comfort zone. I am not comfortable with small talk either – general conversation within a group environment is way out of my comfort zone.

Which were very good reasons for joining up with Spa Speakers – it is good to get out of your comfort zone occasionally.

Two weeks after joining I stood up to do my maiden speech (4 – 6 minutes long) which they call the Ice Breaker for obvious reasons.

Two weeks later I entered a humorous speaking competition where you are given a topic to talk about for between 1 and 2 minutes. You must speak for at least 1 minute and you cannot go over 2.5 minutes or you are disqualified.

The format of the competition is this – you are given the subject to talk about, or you are asked a question, and that is it – you are off on your own speaking about that given subject. You have seconds to prepare – “thinking on your feet” is exactly what you need to do.

The question on this occasion was… “A hurricane is heading towards your home. You have time to only pick one possession. What is it and why?”

Easy?

No, it wasn’t!

We all speak throughout the day – and it would never deter us if we didn’t know about the subject we are talking about in normal conversation! Put yourself in front of an audience and this comfortable feeling goes and can be replaced by a state of panic.

Is it a fear of being judged?

A fear of failure?

A fear of success?

A fear of people laughing at you?

Anyway – I failed.

My speech was humorous enough – but I overran by 3 seconds.

Rules are rules… I messed up.

Am I disappointed with myself? No way!

I know what I did wrong. I messed about at the beginning and at the end of my speech.

I won’t make the same mistake again – this was a learning curve for me – next time I will ensure my speech is the right length – and I know I need to think faster on my feet.

I am looking forward to the next meeting – it is good to get out of your comfort zone occasionally – you might even learn something about yourself.

Note:

What was the one possession I saved? It wasn’t a guitar and it wasn’t my Mac – that much I can tell you!

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