The Shyness Project

Archive for the category “Month 6,7, 8 Public Speaking”

Speech Week and Standing up for What I Believe In

This is a little off topic but because this was really a monumental week for me I thought I would share.  I had one speech and one presentation to give in school this week, and I led table topics (impromptu speaking) at Toastmasters this week as well.

In International Relations I presented my research relating to violence in South Africa.  I spoke with passion and used emphasis on the important points.  I presented along with 6 other people in my human rights group who each had their own topic and was the 5th person to present in our group.  We all brought up desks to the front and sat next to each other for support as one of us went up to the podium at a time to give our presentation.  I thought bringing all the desks up was kind of silly, but I agreed because the others were a lot more nervous than I was.  Some of them said the reason they didn’t apply for CSU’s was because they didn’t want to take speech.  So we sat together and I exchanged smiles with some of them who were freaking out while they waited for their turn.  We made a solid support group and it was nice actually sitting with them.  It’s amazing how many people who you wouldn’t think are nervous at all for presentations really do get nervous beforehand.  You would just never be able to tell when you see them speaking. Surprisingly I was completely calm the whole time, until the person before me began her speech and I realized I would be up soon.  Only then did I start to feel a little nervous.  It was really nice to feel so comfortable.  We all did really well and we fostered a great classroom discussion afterward. We could tell that our teacher was thrilled with us and our excellent presentation.

That night after the presentation on Wednesday, I had to lead Table Topics at Toastmasters as well.  I brought in a bunch of stuffed animals of cartoon characters and gave introductions on each one.  Then I asked them to speak about the cartoon or character.  My dad gave his third speech as well on his love for baseball and sports in general, and Mernie gave a speech on her dog Rosie who passed away.  It was a good night.

The next day on Thursday, I had a persuasive speech in Speech class to give.  I had signed up to go first on the following Tuesday, but she had announced that anyone who wanted to go this Thursday could because there were only 3 speakers.  I was ready with mine so I decided to go for it.  Before I thought I would want to go first to get my speech over with, but with this I realized I could make a much deeper impact if I went last.  So I did.  All day I was nervous though and the speech was in the back of my mind in my other classes.  Speech is my last class of the day, and beforehand I have Career/Life Planning and Intro to Sociology.  I actually felt extremely nervous for once, and like throwing up even, because this issue makes me so emotional.  I knew what I was going to talk about was going to be controversial and might not be well received by a good portion of the class.  But I wanted to challenge myself and give a speech that required me to stand up for what I believe in, even in the face of opposition.  I wanted to do something to make a difference in an issue I care about and to stand up for all the men and women who it affects.

When I got to the class and sat down, I was nervous.  I tried to actually listen to the speeches- at least the first one- and not look at my notes.  When I look at my notes I tend to freak out and mess up more.  Heather went first and she gave her persuasive speech on donating organs. It obviously meant a lot to her because she started crying during her speech and got choked up, which made me teary eyed too.  I whispered “good job!” to her as she sat down and gave her a reassuring smile as she wiped her tears. Then Ivan gave his speech on being safe from hacking, then Ralph did one on health supplements.  Then it was my turn, and I set down the water bottle I had been taking sips from constantly all class period.  I walked to the back of the room and handed Mrs. East my bibliography, outline, and criteria sheet.  Then I walked to the front, looked at my audience, and began with a sad story.

I felt my hands shake as I told the story.  I felt tears come to my eyes.  But I gave my speech as I planned, with vocal variety, and passion.  I got sad, I got angry, I got serious, and I got optimistic.  I shared with them my vision as to why same-sex couples should have just the same rights to marry as any other couple.  I gave them a simple solution to get involved- to sign the petition to repeal the Defense Of Marriage Act on the human rights campaign site. (Sign it too, if you like.)  I got applause. Then the room was silent as the people sat and reflected on all I had said.  I handed out my handouts with the info on the petition to each person in the class, one by one down each aisle.  They quietly accepted, one guy with an outstretched arm and a thank you even.  I sat down and Heather told me good job as well, and offered me a tissue.  I got my score, 100%, with the comments, “very conversational- no, very passionate delivery, very well written and structured speech, great job!”, and left the room.  Then I cried.  And I couldn’t stop crying.  I cried the whole 35 minute drive home.  I couldn’t believe what I had just done. I couldn’t believe I had just stood up for my beliefs in the face of opposition and talked about an issue that is so emotionally difficult to talk about.  That was probably one of the bravest things I’ve ever done in my life.

Three speeches in two days- what a whirlwind.  I am so glad I joined Toastmasters, because in the past all this public speaking would have brought me a lot more anxiety.  I have without a doubt become much more comfortable and confident in my speaking abilities.  And I am very glad I took the leap and joined Toastmasters over the summer.

Speech #3 How to Make Banana Bread

Hey everyone!

This isn’t a post about trying new things, but I wanted to let you all know that I have my 3rd Toastmasters speech up on youtube now.   I gave it last week at Toastmasters and the week before that in my speech class.  It’s up for viewing if you’re interested!  Thanks! 🙂

Speech #2 on Youtube (finally!)

Thanks to my brother Andrew and his mad computer skills, I got the second speech video onto youtube.  I had to use a file compressor and reduce the file size first.  Here it is:

I lost my train of thought a couple of times and accidentally said “Mr. Toastmaster” instead of madam (hope Chole wasn’t offended, I was tired! 🙂 ) but it went well.  My previous post has the details on how the night went.

Speech #2 – Organize your Speech

I’ve been trying repeatedly to upload my second speech to youtube, but it keeps failing.  I recently got a new camera and noticed that the file size of the video was quite big, 600MB, so that’s probably why it isn’t working.

But my second speech went well!  It was about careers and how I, like Sean Aiken from The One-Week Job Project, think it’s ok to not know what you want to do, as long as you are proactive about your search.  My personal goals that I focused on were slowing down and speaking up, which I did both of.  My evaluator Marcy still suggested slowing down even more, so that is something I can continue to work on.  I did concentrate on adding several pauses to my speech though. Carol complimented me for pausing in just the right places and asked if I had had public speaking training before.  She said she was especially impressed with how I am beginning to take charge of the room when giving a speech.

On the night of the speech, I wasn’t that nervous.  I think it was because I was so tired.  After school I came home and crashed on my bed and tried to rest before Toastmasters.  I was completely exhausted because I hadn’t been getting much sleep and the first few days of college were wearing me out.

I did forget a few things during my real presentation and had to refer to my note card near the end.  I tried to do a little bit of walking while up there and made sure to smile when I could.

After I gave my speech everyone excitedly started sharing college and career stories.  There were a lot of funny tales that had us laughing and I thought it was really neat to hear about all their different paths.  Katherine told me I am a very natural speaker and am lovely to listen to.

For my evaluation Marcy started off by saying that she thinks my strongest speaking quality that showed in the first speech as well as the second is the honesty I bring to my speeches.  She said I was honest about not knowing what I want to do and wasn’t afraid to say it.  I really connect with the audience.  The goal of the second speech was organization, and she said I did that very well with my three points.  The opening captured their attention and the closing was strong too.  The ending personally connected with her in that she’s not quite sure what she wants to do and my reassurances about that comforted her as well.

And at the end when Houston was giving the master evaluation and spoke of me, she said “We value how you speak to us as peers.   You don’t treat us like we’re older.  And as a smart young woman we appreciate that you don’t talk down to us.”  The last part made us all laugh and she said “you know what I mean!”

The second speech was a hit and I’ll have to think of what I want to do for the third one soon!

Grammarian / Wizard of Ahs

Last night at Toastmasters I came in without a role for the first time.  I had missed the previous two sessions of Toastmasters since I was away on vacation in Santa Barbara.  I was a little more hesitant about attending than usual because I thought if I didn’t have a role I would for sure be picked for impromptu speaking with Table Topics.  Nervous thoughts floated in my head about not going, and my dad was busy working on a presentation for work so we could have stayed home.  I read some of my blog comments though and decided that avoiding it was not an option for me.  My promise to myself was to feel the fear and do it anyway, and I didn’t want to let myself down.

We arrived at the meeting and they needed someone to be a Grammarian to listen out for ahs, ums, and sos, so I offered to do that when no one else volunteered.  I’d never done that role before but I knew that I would have to keep alert for it to catch anything like that. Usually it is rare and difficult to hear more than a couple of ums.

Being the grammarian helped me focus on my listening skills, and I did catch an um, uh, and so.  I really did have to listen carefully because they were very faint and wouldn’t be noticed unless you were looking out for them.

I did not get picked for Table Topics, to my surprise.  This was kind of good because I was sitting near the back for once (I always sit near the front) and this made it harder for me to want to go up to the podium.  The further back I am, the bigger the room seems, and the more I want to stay to myself.  Not having gone to a meeting in two weeks also made me realize how helpful it is to go each week. It keeps you in the right mind set and fills you with momentum.  My mind was going blank on the table topics as I listened to the introductions, and I don’t know what I would have said if I had been chosen.  I’ve only done table topics twice so I suppose the more I do it the more I’ll get comfortable with it.  The impromptu speaking segment still makes my heart race.

Near the end of the meeting Chole brought up the idea of starting a mentorship program within the club.  She went around the room and asked each of us to say what we thought our strength was in Toastmasters that we might be able to help someone else with.  Initially I didn’t quite think I couldn’t think of any strengths in Toastmasters that I could help anyone with, but as I had more time to think about it I thought of something I could say.  Many of the others also felt like they didn’t really have a certain strength until someone brought up some ideas of what they thought their strengths were.  Some of them said they are really good at being the Toastmaster, others the Table Topics Master, or are good at adding humor to their speeches, etc.  I said that I’m fairly new, but I think writing is one of my strengths.  I’m able to brainstorm ideas fairly quickly for speeches and then once I start writing them out the speech just flows.  Windy joked that she wants me to write her speeches then, which made us all laugh.  Chole said being able to brainstorm ideas like that is quite valuable and is something that could definitely help someone.

At the end they assigned roles for next week.  I thought of volunteering for Speaker #2, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to have the time to practice my speech enough before Wednesday.  I finished writing it yesterday.  I told Larry I’d email him if I thought I could do it though.  I think I can, I just don’t want to put added pressure on myself if I feel like I’m not ready.  I’m starting my first semester of college next week and that is already a lot of stress for me.  I still am not all that familiar with how to get to each of the two colleges I’m taking classes at, and have hardly driven on the highway before (and never by myself).  I’m hoping to practice this weekend though so I’ll be feeling a little more prepared by Monday.  (*Update: I emailed Larry a few hours ago and told him I would give the speech on Wednesday!  I practiced a lot today and I am feeling more prepared.)

*Psst: Here’s a link to the Toastmasters website: http://www.toastmasters.org/

It has some good info on there about public speaking and about Toastmasters.  There is also a Q&A that I just read about a guy who said he is shy and introverted and how Toastmasters has helped him.

http://www.toastmasters.org/MainMenuCategories/FreeResources/10QuestionsFor/ArunSridhar.aspx

Responses to The Ice Breaker Speech and Shyness Project

I am touched by the responses I’ve gotten from those who have watched my Icebreaker Speech video.  Susan Cain, the brilliant upcoming author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts book and blog (http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/), wrote an especially heartfelt email to me.  She said my speech “brought tears to her eyes — not only the cruelty of your so-called friends, but also your courage in telling it.”  She said she can’t even imagine what incredible things I’ll be doing by the time I’m her age.  I’m honored, not only because she took the time to read my post and watch my video, but because my speech had such an impact on her.  I will always treasure her email.

I recently told one of my friends, Tristan, (who I met through swing dance) about my project and speech, and he surprised me by saying that he considers himself to be shy and introverted.  He brought up many insightful qualities about being shy and introverted as well.  I had no idea that he thought either of those things about himself, but it was cool to hear.  He is a guy I admire very much and have always looked up to.  He is adventurous, environmentally conscious, and wise beyond his years.  He has travelled to many countries and is currently teaching English abroad in Japan for his second year.

Yesterday I finally told my oldest brother Andrew about my project. He wrote back saying “Oh my god Brittany, I am so proud of you!  You always amaze me with your brilliance and introspection!” which was really touching because I’d been nervous to tell him.  We talked on the phone for a long time.  He said he never thought I was shy, and brought up how I’d always befriended his friends right away and got along so well with them.  His friends would often tell him that they wished that I was their sister, and Andrew would tell them he was very proud to be my brother.

He then told me as he was watching my speech, he nearly cried.  He said he learned something new about me.  I asked him what that was, and he said he had no idea about the bullying.  I hadn’t realized that I’d never told him.  The truth is, I’ve rarely ever talked about it and at the time it was happening, I kept it secret.  I didn’t want my family to think that I was a loser like those girls did.  I didn’t even write about it in my journal because I didn’t want to admit that it was happening. It wasn’t until the cyber-bullying near the end of the year that I finally broke down and told my mom.

Today I talked on the phone with my friend Brian, and let him in on the project too. He was very enthusiastic and interested in reading it and watching my speeches.  He was very proud and touched by what I was trying to do not only help myself, but to help other people.  He thinks I’m proactive and am helping spread a message that shyness isn’t a weakness and something others should look down upon.  I told him how I used to believe that I had live my life with limitations, and now that I’ve learned that I don’t have to, my whole perspective has changed.

Now that I’ve been speaking more about my project instead of keeping it to myself, I’ve learned that people are very supportive and proud of me for what I’m doing.  The ones I’ve talked with don’t view me as shy at all.  They are glad that I’m becoming aware of what I’m capable of and that I am not letting labels or false beliefs hold me back.

To anyone who I’ve mustered up the courage to tell my project to, thank you.  Thank you for being so supportive, understanding, and loving.  Thank you especially Annie for making me feel so comfortable when I shared my project for the first time, and for making me feel so good about myself.  Thank you Andrew for spending several hours with me editing a guest post I’m writing to help make it the most accessible it can be.  And thank you to all the loyal blogging friends I’ve made since the start of this journey: Doug, Vee, Sharon, “Madonna”, Cheryl, Jenny, “Hook”, “GMom”, Tom, Patti, Maria, Patricia, Tyler, Eric, and Faith.  Doug, as you know you were my first blogging friend.  If you hadn’t been there to help me figure out blogging and hadn’t offered to let me write a guest post, it would have taken me longer to get started.

I am very fortunate to have so many wonderful people in my life.  Who knew starting this project and blog could bring so much greatness and self-realization.

Taking on Another Role: Wordmaster

Last Wednesday I was the Wordmaster at Toastmasters.  I had one of the smaller roles, and simply had to introduce a new word to the club that they would try to use during the table topics impromptu speaking or any other time. I chose auspicious, which means favorable or opportune, even though it’s a word that probably many know and I’ve known it since it was a vocab word from Lit class in 9th grade when we read “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  The word was used several times throughout the evening and it had a fairly good run.

Luckily I didn’t have to do table topics that night as I was feeling pretty nervous about the scenario and wasn’t quite sure what I would say.  My dad gave his icebreaker speech this night though, and that went well.  He did end up talking way over the time limit but everyone assured him that his stories were so good and interesting that they didn’t mind.  So now my dad and I have both gotten our first speeches out of the way!  We really should celebrate.

I won’t be able to go to Toastmasters for the next two weeks though as I’ll be away, but I will have some other posts up for you hopefully!

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.

Scheduling my Icebreaker Speech Earlier than Planned

7-11-11

As I was sitting down finishing my dinner, my mom told me that my dad isn’t ready to give his speech yet and wants to switch dates with me.  Suddenly, that lasagna didn’t taste so good anymore.

I felt sick to my stomach and cold and nervous, and as I ate a few more bites it became harder and harder to chew.

But I took a deep breath, and agreed to do it.  I was planning to give my speech the following week, but now I had two days to finish practicing and fine-tuning my speech.  Oh boy, this is happening.  At least I’ll get it over with…Fellow Toastmasters.

Brittany the Jokemaster

7-6-11

Tonight turned out to be a great night of Toastmasters!  I was the jokemaster of the evening, and was to tell about two jokes.

I practiced my jokes several times a day until I knew them like the back of my hand and didn’t need any notes.  I even video recorded myself so I could see how my vocal variety and expressions/gestures looked.  If I saw things that I wanted to make better, I would work on them, like the way I used my hands and varied my voice.  I didn’t think I’d be able to memorize both jokes, especially the longer one, but after I realized the rhythm of the jokes it made it much easier to keep them straight in my head.

I didn’t allow myself to get worried about what I was doing the week I was practicing thankfully enough.  Anytime I felt a negative thought try to creep into my head, I immediately blocked it from entering my mind.  It was amazing.  I tried to imagine myself telling my jokes with confidence and a self-assured smile.  I believed that the group would laugh at my jokes and genuinely enjoy them.

At the meeting I was called on to tell my jokes right away, sooner than I expected, and I nervously smiled and shook hands with the Sergeant at Arms.  I hoped I would remember everything and not look at any notes.

It went well, and I didn’t look at my notes at all.  I spoke a little fast at first probably, but I used my gestures and vocal variety that I practiced.  I smiled and sustained eye contact with each separate person longer this time to make them feel like I was really talking to them.

Everyone laughed and clapped, and especially enjoyed the second joke.  I felt flushed afterward and a little shaky once I was back in my seat, but it couldn’t have gone any better.  I did it just like I practiced.

When it was time for the table topics, however, I had a much harder time.  Each person read a line off a Snapple cap that they had to make a 1 – 2 minute speech about.  And just my luck, when I was called up I got a really off the wall one.  It read “Only male turkeys gobble.”  I smiled up at the podium but I had no idea what I would say.  I don’t really know much of anything about turkeys…

I started by repeating the fact, and said “Well what do the females do then?  What noise do they make?” I had no idea what else to say and I think I said an um there, and then decided to talk about having a grandpa who owns a farm (made up) who has turkeys, pigs, and horses.  I talked about how the first time I’d ridden a horse, I was really nervous.  We were in the Mojave Desert and it was very hot, and I was afraid of getting thrown off or something but didn’t have any problems. (true)  I said a few more ums and winged it until I saw the green light signaling I’d reached the required minute and that was good enough for me so I finished.

Everyone clapped, and I thought I did really bad, especially with all the ums, but hey, I did it.  I got a little flushed, embarrassed by my poor performance.

Imagine my surprise when at the end of the meeting it was announced that I won the Best Table Topics Award!  I thought I had no chance of even getting a single vote!  I accepted my award with a look of shock and smiled, and admitted that I really didn’t expect that at all.

I talked to some people afterward about it, Marcy and then later one of the guests who said I did really good and they would have had no idea what to say on that.  I couldn’t believe it, I told them I had no idea what I was saying and thought I did really bad.  Maybe I’m just too hard on myself.

Everyone really liked my jokes, and one of the guests at the end commented that she’ll have to steal my jokes to tell other people and pretend they’re her own, which was a pretty high compliment to me.  Houston made a comment that I was a great storyteller, which made me smile because those are words I’d never thought I’d hear.  Chole told me privately that she was really impressed with me because she was terrified of being the jokemaster and hadn’t done it yet. She thinks no one will laugh at her jokes, which surprised me because she’s one of the best speakers of the club.  The other guest said she was really impressed that all of us were such great speakers and said as she was watching Table Topics she thought she’d have no idea what to say and would make a big fool out of herself.  She said public speaking terrifies her, but she has to make a presentation for work soon so that’s why she’s here.

After hearing that, I knew I had to talk to her and tell her how nervous and intimidated I was when I first came here.  So I talked to her and told how intimidated I felt at first and how I wanted to get the heck out of here because I was so scared, but it’s gotten easier each time I’ve come and I feel more comfortable now.  I told her that everyone’s always so supportive and friendly.  This seemed to reassure her and she said she’d definitely be back then, and I was happy to hear that.

On the way home, I turned up the music and sang my heart out to the songs on the radio and felt a rush of euphoria with my accomplishments for the night!  I never thought I’d say this, but speaking in Toastmasters gives me a rush and I’m excited for more!  I can’t believe how far I’ve come already, this is insane!  Absolutely insane I tell you!

*Here’s one of the practice videos, this one was before going to bed.  This camera makes my voice sound funny and doesn’t sound like me according to my mom, but at least it has sound.

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