This article is part of The Ice-Breaker Series: a documentary of my journey through Toastmasters in pursuit of becoming a better public speaker.
Today I’m sharing my 6th Toastmasters speech. If you’re new here, I joined Toastmasters last year to become a better public speaker. My goal is to help you become a better public speaker (and maybe even encourage you to join Toastmasters) by sharing my experience with you.
I gave this speech the day after Veterans Day. It’s titled, “3 Lessons I Learned in the Navy.” I served in the Navy for five years and wanted to share the most important lessons I learned in celebration of Veterans Day.
Here’s my speech:
Overall, I thought the speech went well. I was a bit nervous because the objective of this speech was to achieve “vocal variety.” For whatever reason, this scared the living daylights out of me. I’ve never focused on the tone or pitch of my voice so I wasn’t quite sure how to accomplish this. I decided to make some funny voices throughout the speech to meet this objective.
Overall, this was my best speech. What made this speech better than the rest? I thought about this a lot. I prepared about the same amount of time for this speech as I did the other speeches. I shared personal stories just like in my other speeches. I was a bit more experienced because I had five speeches under my belt.
But ultimately, it came down to one thing –
After each of my prior speeches, someone in the audience always suggested that I smile more. I’m not sure why I didn’t smile in my other speeches. I think I was just nervous which resulted in a more serious expression on my face. I let my feeling inside (nervousness) affect how I looked on the outside.
For this speech, smiling helped me overcome my nervousness and feel more relaxed. It also helped me connect better with the audience. The audience always wants a speaker to do well. When the speaker is smiling, he or she appears more confident and relaxed.
The Greater Impact
Smiling can have a positive impact on a speech and on life in general. My demeanor is usually serious and results-driven. Two of my top-five strengths according to the Clifton StrengthsFinder are Competition and Achiever. I usually don’t spend much time on anything that doesn’t help me achieve my mission.
Smiling can help me create a more positive environment at work when I talk with my employees, co-workers, and customers. It can also help me create a positive environment at home when I’m with my family. Even when I’m not feeling great about a situation, smiling can help me feel better about it. It’s a way I can consciously take control of my emotional state. It can also help me spread happiness to those around me.
So, the golden nugget from this speech is to “smile.” For those competitive, mission-oriented people out there like me – it doesn’t hurt to smile once in a while. Next time you’re feeling nervous, upset, stressed-out, or overwhelmed… Remember to smile. It can make a big difference.
What are you thoughts? How can I make my next speech better?
I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.
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Previous posts in The Ice-Breaker Series: