This article is part of The Ice-Breaker Series: a documentary of my journey through Toastmasters in pursuit of becoming a better public speaker.
In today’s article I reflect on my third Toastmasters speech and provide you with the lessons I learned from the experience. As a Toastmaster I must deliver 10 speeches to become a “competent communicator.” My third speaking assignment was to “get to the point” by being absolutely clear what the audience should do or know at the end of the talk. The allotted speaking time was 4-6 minutes.
I chose to speak on a topic from a popular blog post I had written a few months ago called, The Personal Growth Choice. I enjoyed writing this post and since it resonated well with the readers, I thought it would make a great topic for my speech.
Since becoming a Toastmaster, I’ve become much more aware of the differences when communicating by writing and speaking. It’s something that I never gave much thought to until recently. Writing helps me sort my thoughts and organize my message. Speaking is a more personable and dynamic way to deliver the message.
For example, as I was writing the blog post on personal growth, I was aware of my feelings on the topic but I wasn’t quite sure how to communicate them. It took me 4-5 hours of thinking and writing to transform those thoughts and feelings into words. When I was finished, I created a title that tied it together – The Personal Growth Choice.
When I converted the post into a speech, it was easy for me to add stories to the message to drive the point home. My thoughts were already organized. Personally, I felt like I could take the audience deeper into the topic by speaking about it vs. writing about it.
This isn’t something I’ve thought about since my days of playing sports but it came to mind after I delivered my speech. If you’re unfamiliar with “the zone,” here’s my best stab at the definition…
Zone: A state of extreme concentration when the mind, body, and spirit act as one.
When you’re “in the zone” you’re focused but also relaxed. It’s a great place to be.
When I began my speech I wasn’t in the zone. I was nervous, fidgety, and worried I might forget my words. But when I got halfway through the speech, something changed. I felt like I was back in my basement where I had practiced my speech. The audience seemed to disappear and it was just me and my speech. The pressure lifted, my mind caught up with my body, and I felt like I was one with my words.
I’m not sure why this happened at this moment but I’m sure glad it did. According to some Toastmasters veterans, new members usually hit this point during their 5th speech. And it happens to EVERYONE! No matter how nervous or afraid you are about public speaking, you eventually find the zone. Once you find the zone, you will always seek it out. It’s a great feeling.
Overall, I feel like I’m improving, and that’s why I joined Toastmasters – to get better each and every day.
Last but not least… the speech. Here you go:
What are your thoughts? I’d love your feedback in the comment section below.
Scott Mackes is a leader and founder of the blog Margin of Excellence. A U.S. Navy veteran and graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Scott’s mission is to help others lead remarkable journeys. Connect with Scott on facebook and twitter.
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