by Judi LaPoint
When I joined Toastmaster in June, 2010, I would have to say I felt bad about my speaking. It wasn’t that I was afraid to speak in public – it was that I didn’t have the confidence that HOW I said, what I said -would have the impact I intended to have on my audience!
I joined Toastmasters to give me the confidence to be an effective speaker. I had no intention, desire or inclination to be a humorous speaker – that was completely outside the realm of how I ever saw myself!
But in August of 2010 we started talking about the upcoming humorous speaking contest. My palms started to sweat, my respiration increased and I got a bit queasy in my stomach. All signs to back away. I thought to myself, I could be a judge – or a timer.
Then I thought , “Well, wait a second. I am here to learn to stretch myself in uncomfortable situations. I am not here to hide – I am here to grow!” So I tentatively raised my hand and volunteered to be a speaker! It was horrifying – but I had done it!
A week went by with almost no sleep – tossing and turning – what was I going to talk about? How was I going to make it funny? What on earth was I thinking! I wonder if I could get out of it. Could I call in sick? Should I just quit?
Nope. I was going to do it – even if I fell flat on my face! I finally hit upon the idea of aging. While it isn’t all that funny to me, some aspects of it make me want to laugh – otherwise I’d cry! I’d read some REALLY funny things on aging. One of the funniest was Nora Ephron’s book “I Feel Bad About My Neck!”
That book spoke to me. Nora and I were like sisters our stories were so alike. That’s when I decided I would do a take-off on Nora’s and my story! I crafted my speech – it was too long. Oh what to cut? I finally got it down to seven minutes!
I presented it to my husband. He said, “That’s’ very good!” But I could tell he “didn’t get it!” So I modified it to add a way to include men. Then I gave it at a small dinner party. That was the worst! There was small polite twitters of laughter – nothing uproarious that would be needed to win a contest. I modified it again.
When I got to the first contest imagine my delight when most of the judges were women about my age! They knew exactly what I was going through – we’re ALL going through it. The younger women just haven’t learned that they need to appreciate their necks now, while they still can.
Well, the rest is history. After two more contests and more fine tuning, with the help from fellow toastmasters, friends and complete strangers, I finally had a speech that was worthy of the Toastmaster’s District 26 Humorous Speech Contest! Yes. I won it!
From believing I would rather call in sick, or quit to winning the District Champion! I challenged myself, got out from under the fear and stretched my wings. I didn’t just fly, I soared! It was and still is an amazing feeling.
I urge you to stretch your wings and soar! You’ll be glad you did!