It may seem a small thing to stand in front of a group of people and deliver a speech. However, it is something I have always dreaded. When I was working as a rehab counsellor I could always use the excuse that I am deaf to avoid such embarassment. Yet deep within myself has always been an admiration of good speakers and a desire to be a good public speaker myself. I decided a few weeks ago that I can sit on the fence no longer. ….
I arrived at Toastmasters full of trepidation, even though the members have now become more like friends. I knew they would be supportive because that is one of the rules. I also knew that they would be listening intently. The Timemaster would be monitoring the length of my speech. The Ah master would be counting how many ums, ahs and awkward pauses were in my speech. The Hark master would be asking the members questions. The Grammarian would be commenting on my use of language. The Speech Evaluator would be taking notes and providing constructive criticism at the end.
Just to confuse matters, I had volunteered to be Grammarian as well!
I arrived at the meeting dressed for the occasion and we’ll prepared. So I thought! It seemed as though everyone was speaking softly that night. I went to turn up my hearing aid and discovered to my horror that I hadn’t worn it. It was at home where I had removed it to bathe.
So it was that I spent the meeting with my hand cupped to my ear looking like an idiot. My other ear is totally deaf so not much use except to stop my specs falling off.
Perchance you are wondering how my speech went?
I stuffed up the opening sentence. I stumbled through the first minute and then……l began to enjoy myself! I spoke for 6 minutes without notes and only said 6 ums. They said my Aussie accent was a little difficult to understand at times. After all I am a country boy and my speech was about life on the farm!
In the end the time was perfect, my Evaluator said I finished a little abruptly but spoke clearly with humour and without notes, which was a credit to me. She said that I did very well. Others later told me they really enjoyed my speech and are looking forward to the next one!
I am so glad I did this. My darling S was so right to encourage me to join Toastmasters. I only wish I had done this sooner.
Life can be full of regrets. This is one I won’t have!