The Shyness Project

First Icebreaker Speech

7-13-11

I sat anxiously in my chair, waiting for the jokes and table topics to come to an end.  I was nervous, and I hoped I wouldn’t forget my speech.  It was a little over a 1000 word speech and I had practiced it enough to where I could give it without looking at any notes.  While practicing I worked on using my hands and using some vocal variety.  I wrote my speech basically all in one night, which is when I seem to do my best work when it comes to creativity, and tweaked it the next few days.

Before I left to give my speech, I reminded myself of something I’d read before.  I told myself, “It doesn’t have to be perfect.”  I think a lot of us who are slightly introverted or shy or any sort of combination of the two get caught up in perfection sometimes, and it’s important to remind ourselves that it’s ok to make mistakes or that it’s ok if everything doesn’t go the way we want it to.

As I was being introduced, I felt more nervous than I have been in a long time.  I thought after telling jokes to the club, leading table topics, and participating in table topics that the speech wouldn’t be that hard, but it is surprisingly still the hardest thing.

I think part of the reason why I was so nervous for the speech was because I decided to take a risk with it.  I made my speech extremely personal, and in doing so allowed myself to be very vulnerable.  But I figured that what I was opening up about would allow them to get to know me a lot better than if I simply talked about my hobbies or interests.

While giving my speech to the club, I looked down once or twice at my notes even though I didn’t have to.  I guess it was out of nervous habit, and to make sure I stayed on track.  I spoke a little fast and didn’t keep eye contact with one person for an extended period of time like I could have, but I looked around the room at each person.   There were some smiles and laughs at the humorous parts of my speech, and some surprised and concerned faces as I talked about some of the serious parts of my speech.  At one point talking about shyness and bullying I felt myself get a little emotional, but I kept it under control.

I can’t believe I was able to give a public speech about shyness and bullying, those are things I’ve rarely talked about, let alone given a speech on.  I knew it was a risk talking about that because I’ve always gotten emotional, but I was able to do it.

During the break, Marcy told me that I did a really good job on the speech.  Phyllis came to talk to me about how people like that may be on top of the totem pole then, but after middle school and high school the people who were once on the bottom come to the top.  Larry told me he was really impressed because I really made myself vulnerable, and that’s something that takes years for people to be able to do with public speaking.  He said it was really incredible.

My evaluator, Saeed, gave me a good evaluation at the end of the meeting.  He recapped to the club that I talked about being a young kid with my two brothers, improving my weaknesses, being in many clubs, and being the director of Global Projects in SAGE.  He said I have made several huge achievements for a young lady and accomplished goals very beautifully.  He said how I was viewed as a shy lady and a shy kid, and how I’ve learned that none of these are barriers.  “You proved to everyone that you are not shy, you are a courageous woman.”  His critique was that I should slow down, which takes a bit of the nervousness out.  He mentioned that I didn’t use notes, so I could have walked around instead of staying in one place mostly.  He ended it by saying, “I can see you’re going to be a star.”

It was very nice, and I appreciated his feedback.  The timer said that my speech was 4 minutes and 7 seconds, which made me feel kind of bad because when I practiced it had been about 5 minutes each time.  I didn’t have any ahs or ums though, so that’s good.  I did dwell on the speaking too fast part though, as Larry and Don had said that to me too and I wondered if anything I said even made sense or if I had just messed up my whole speech.  I worked so hard on it, and it meant so much to me since it was so personal, that I hated to think that I had messed it up by speaking too fast.  For once after Toastmasters I didn’t feel the best.

To wrap things up, Marcy gave the master evaluation.  When speaking of me, she mentioned again how she was terrified of public speaking at my age.  She said she felt inspired watching my speech, and was sure the others did too.  She even said that she can see a future leader here.

On another note, I had my dad record my icebreaker speech.  After watching the video, I felt a lot better about my speech and realized that my speed was fine and that everything I said was still clear.  I’m really glad he took the video because otherwise I would have thought I did a lot worse than I actually did.

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40 thoughts on “First Icebreaker Speech

  1. Eric Sylvester on said:

    Congrats kid!

    As a freshman I was a 4’11, 90 lb hockey player on a high school team where most of the guys were 6’0 and in the 180+ range. Needless to say, I got picked on a LOT. I always heard the same “things get better, they’ll go nowhere” crap over and over, but I didn’t buy it.

    Now that I’m going to be a senior in college, I can COMPLETELY attest to this. College is a blast, you get to be you uncensored for the first time in your life, and you realize how unimportant those high school jerks are to the world. I really hope you keep your chin up, and it seems like you are 🙂 Things get 1000% better, and I completely believe my worst days in college are better than some of my best days in high school. It gets better, kiddo 🙂

    • Wow yeah some people can be really mean, sorry you were bothered by those guys in high school a lot! I’m glad you had a blast in college though! I’m looking forward to it! High school was actually a good experience for me overall, it was just that one year in middle school, 6th grade, where I had to deal with being targeted and being the center of ridicule. Thankfully after 6th grade I never had to deal with them again really and met some really great people, some of whom are still my friends today. And I haven’t been picked on since 6th grade, so I’ve been lucky there since I know many people have horror stories from high school and had to go through a lot of unimaginable cruelty. Thanks for your comment Eric!

  2. Brittany — I loved your speech; you did a fabulous job! I can guarantee there is no way I could have done that at 18. It took me until I was almost 40 to be comfortable speaking in front of groups. I can tell you are going to be very successful.

    Honestly, I don’t think you’re shy. I don’t think a shy person would have been able to do what you did — and keep doing it on a regular basis. You’re quiet and an introvert — but you know that introversion and shyness don’t mean the same thing.

    You are also a beautiful writer. I know this is going to make me sound old — but so many people your age tend to write everything like a text message. You clearly have talent as a writer.

    I’m looking forward to keeping up with your project!

    • Thank you Susan! 🙂 It was not an easy thing to do, but I’m glad I did it.

      Yeah honestly I’ve always felt that when people called me shy that they weren’t right, I didn’t feel like I was shy or anything. I hated being called shy or quiet or anything like that. I think I may just be more introverted and like to talk about more meaningful stuff than a lot of what people chit chat about, and I don’t have as much to add to that sometimes so I get labeled as shy. I am friendly, and can be pretty talkative and I enjoy meeting new people and being with people, so I don’t know why I used to get that so much and still do sometimes. It always seemed like I was being talked to as if there was a problem with me, or a reason to bring attention to me because it wasn’t normal or ok if I seemed more quiet to them. I wasn’t even aware sometimes that people were thinking that because I thought I was being plenty talkative and was having a good time before they said that. It’s all so confusing. But I’ve decided to stop letting others’ labels or descriptions of me interfere with my own self-perception. And that is a very freeing decision. It’s so hard to do, but it’s so important.

      Thank you, I’m really touched to hear that! That seriously means a lot to me. 🙂 I love writing, so I’m glad that I seem to be doing it well!

      Thank you, and I look forward to keeping up with your blog too Susan! Thanks for your lovely comment!

  3. Congratulations! I watched your video and I thought you did a really good job. I need to take that slow down advice myself. I get carried away sometimes and forget to breathe lol.

    • Thanks Tyler, and thanks for your email too! I hope we both can teach abroad or something like that one day! Yeah I tend to talk quickly even with friends, I’ve never really been a slow talker, but it’s important to do that with speeches I suppose! And while you’re up there speaking silences feel awkward so you just want to keep talking, though I suppose it’s good to stop and pause every once in a while. Thanks for writing!

  4. way to go girl! You did it great! congrats!!

  5. Patti on said:

    Brittany, I obviously never saw your “shy” behavior, but watching your speech, I would never put you in that category. I’ve seen plenty of experienced adults with less composure even just talking in a casual group discussion. I’m thinking you can take on anything you want to in life.

  6. GREAT JOB! If I didn’t know you were nervous from your blog, I wouldn’t have really been able to tell in that video. You did a really good job and I know from experience that doing a speech, or in my one case, a monologue that is in anyone personal and makes you vulnerable is SOOOO difficult. You looked like a natural in doing it, though. Very proud of you! Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you Sharon!! 🙂 I remember you saying how you were really proud of yourself one time when you did a really personal monologue or speech. I remembered thinking then that I should have the bravery to do something like that too. 🙂 It is really difficult, especially when you’re looking at people and see their reactions and know that you are really saying some vulnerable stuff. Thank you, your words mean a lot to me!

  7. Well, you are great!! I am always nervous when I haven’t well prepared for something, while I am very confident if I have well prepared before!! Thanks for good sharing.

  8. This sounds like a great learning experience for you. Well done!

  9. Brittany – Not only are you a great speaker, but you also have learned that the old “practice makes perfect” way of doing things is really “practice makes GREAT”! In addition you also have great writing skills! You might be young in age, but I believe you are an “old soul”. Keep up the EXCELLENT job you are doing!
    Larry

    • Thank you very much Larry!! 🙂 I certainly put in a lot of work to try and do a good job in Toastmasters, and I’m glad it’s paying off! Haha yes I think I may be an old soul too, I really don’t feel like a teenager. And thank you for taking the time to read my blog Larry, only one friend knew about it before but I felt like I could share it with our Toastmasters group too! I’m glad I’ve gotten to befriend all of you, and look forward to getting to know you even better!

  10. Great job! I’m very proud of you. It is a huge accomplishment Brittany. I’m not a huge fan of public speaking either. I’m happy to hide behind my blog, but you… Great job again. I haven’t blogged or commented for over a month but I think I might post something soon. I’ve been getting a lot of emails and before someone calls out the FBI to find me, I will post.

    Thanks for subscribing to my blog even though I haven’t written anything. Keep on pressing toward your goals and I hope your project continues longer than a year! Take care.

    • Thanks Tom! 🙂 I’m not a big fan of public speaking either, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought! It’s nerve-racking, but I think it is a great growing experience. And yes I noticed that I hadn’t heard anything from you in a while, I hope you get back into the blogging soon! I’m glad to hear from you!

      Subscribing is a good way for me to keep in touch with people so I can get the emails when there are new posts, so hopefully I’ll get one from you soon! And even once the project ends, it won’t really be the end, but the beginning. I probably won’t be putting myself through another year of set goals, but I will always be striving for personal growth and will keep challenging myself. Thanks for writing!

  11. great speech Brittany and I would never think that you were shy. I had such problems with perfectionism when I was younger and I agree that combined with introversion was a hard combo to overcome.

    Turning 50 was a great boon to me, because I truly stopped caring what others thought – and I just started speaking about what I wanted to say – not without the shaking hands sometimes, but I made the others work at clarifying what I was saying or asking and then they became more involved too. I just knew I was a kind, gracious, and intelligent person and began working out of that place.

    Writing is sure easier and teaching classes and giving speeches is easier for me, then spontaneous speaking…but it is all good.

    I find as so many of the people around me are becoming more and more afraid in this political climate, I am the one who learned to deal with fear and attack in my youth – I already have that knowledge in my memory banks and can draw on it with ease – or know when to just get out of that situation.

    Great job. How lucky you were to be in so many clubs and groups. You are one brave woman and I think your dreams will come true.

    • Thanks Patricia! 🙂 Yeah perfectionism + introversion = too much stress sometimes, haha.

      I’m glad you have truly stopped caring what others think, that is something that some people never learn to do in a whole lifetime. I am learning, but I cannot say that I have gotten to that point where what others say doesn’t affect me in any way. I think it will come with age too. You definitely are a kind, gracious, intelligent person, I can tell by the way you write your posts and by the way you write your very thoughtful comments.

      Yeah I express myself best through the written word, but learning to express myself better through speech, prepared or unprepared, is something I want to improve on.

      Good for you for learning to deal with fear and attack it in your youth, it isn’t easy!

      Thanks, I enjoyed doing a lot of volunteer work and there were a lot of clubs that allowed me to tutor, to help keep the campus and town clean, and to be involved in fundraisers. Thank you, I’m feeling pretty optimistic about the future now too! I don’t think I have as much standing in my way as I did before.

  12. brian on said:

    Loved this Video!!!! You did so amazing!! it was truly a joy to watch. Wish i was in the crowd, would have given you a standing ovation, followed by a ten round salute with a pair of Roman Candles!……and then would probably would have been escorted of the premisis….

    • Thank you Brian!! 🙂 🙂 That means a lot and I am grinning like a fool behind this laptop screen! Haha I would have loved to see that, I miss you! Can’t wait until I can see you again! Last summer feels ages ago. Thanks so much for writing! It made my day!

  13. Pingback: Responses to The Ice Breaker Speech and Shyness Project « The Shyness Project

  14. wondering if you could e-mail me a typed version of your speech please? i tried watching your video, but couldn’t really understand your accent… sorry about that…

  15. Pingback: The Shyness Project: An Inspirational Interview with Brittany | Shyness is Nice

  16. Pingback: Question 796 « BETWIXT AND BETWEEN

  17. Hi ,, you are great ” I swear ” ,
    you have done a perfect job
    I am from Arabian country ” Jordan ” and I am really interested seeing this video
    although I am Arabian , I have a comment 🙂
    I really find it difficult to understand each word you’ve said because you are so FAST , so please can you send me the written draft of your speech to become more understand ? I really need to understand each word 🙂

    keep going ,, I swear you will be a LEADER and FAMOUS one day :)))

    • Aww thank you so much for your sweet message, I’m not sure if I still have the text of my speech still, it might be on my parents’ computer. If I find it I’ll send it to you though, thanks! 🙂

  18. Asking questions are in fact nice thing if you are not understanding anything entirely, except this
    paragraph provides pleasant understanding even.

  19. Hi Brittany,
    I watched your ice breaker and after reading your post here I am certainly having a better idea about the feelings that are related to the first speech.

    I admire the way you took your shyness as a project and I am sure you are doing justice to it.

    Best of luck and I hope you post more of your toastmaster speeches online.

    P.S.: I have to give my ice breaker soon and you helped me overcome my nervousness.

    • Thank you very much for your thoughtful note, I’m glad seeing me do my icebreaker and discuss how I felt was comforting to you. The first speech is definitely nerve-racking. Have you given your icebreaker speech since you last wrote here? How did it go?

  20. You need to take part in a contest for one of the best websites on the net.
    I’m going to recommend this blog!

  21. I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the page layout
    of your blog? Its very well written; I love
    what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of
    content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one
    or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

  22. Howard roark on said:

    Great job! I’m a couple years late but oh well. Got mine coming up. I hate being a perfectionist. 😦
    You should check out the power of now by Eckhart tolle if you haven’t alrdy. Great for anxiety.
    And p.s. I’ll definitely be following your blog now. Have a good one. : p

  23. Jessica on said:

    Thanks for sharing this! I am much older than you and your video was inspiring to me. I need to make an icebreaker speech. You did great!

  24. hey!

    I just watched your video and then found the link to your blog.

    You did really well, I could see you were feeling nervous but I could also see you were strong-spirited and willing to break through your fear!

    However I did not know you were THAT nervous till coming across your blog. Seems like you were very prepared (even had a word count)

    You did wonderfully, and it is has really inspired me! I signed up for Toastmasters in my University a few days ago… but now that I found out we must each do an ice breaker session… i dunno if Ill continue. its sooo scary

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