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.