The commitment was made and I was now a Toastmaster! A new world was opening up to me . As I joined in the summer of 2015 and I had two education paths to follow Competent Communication and Competent Leadership. Keen to get going I took on a couple of roles at meetings that required tentative steps in public speaking, Warm up master and Timekeeper.
It was then time to follow a Toastmasters right of passage. My first speech to the club , The Icebreaker!
All speeches have objectives and time frames.The Icebreaker is between 4-6 minutes and was the way of me introducing myself to the club. It’s a the way of getting a benchmark to discover any existing skills you may have or something you need to work on.
I had nerves a plenty when I arrived and saw my name on the agenda,
Sean Keet : David Attenborough made me broke . 4-6 minutes
And how was it? The time flew by and I missed bits out ,and bolted through the speech like I was racing away from zombie apocalypse! I had told a story of how David Attenborough has inspired me to travel and some of the places I had been. I was given a nice round of applause and took my seat. It’s rare to have a group of people focussed on you and not a phone for a whole 6 minutes ! I have always thought since that day that I wanted to make my speeches interesting and fun .
After every speech the Toastmaster asks for a minute on the clock and the members filling in slips of paper with recommendations and things they enjoyed about your speech. In the interval the members give them to the speakers .
It’s lovely to feel the encouragement.
Then as the second half of the meeting started I waited for my evaluation from our then President.Evaluations are the bedrock of improvement and the feedback is the driver for success. I was really nervous, it was out of my hands. The evaluation was positive, I had good eye contact and good structure but my pace was to fast and i barely paused for breath.
Something to work on.
I couldn’t sleep when I got in as I was still buzzing. I wanted to try again straight away to improve. All those slips of paper that the members gave me where to remain unread. I was to nervous to read them. Two days later after a couple of glasses of wine I plucked up the courage to read them. I am glad I did. Warmth and encouragement came through in bucket loads as well as sound hints and tips. To this day I have kept everyone one of them from every speech.