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Man I've been on a role lately with Toastmasters. Having fun, winning ribbons for Best Evaluator and Best Speaker all over the place, feeling really good about standing up in front of people. I was telling my dad that just for fun I should take my sister on in inpromptu speaking next time we're together... my sister was a champion debater, just incredible, you could throw any topic at her and she'd give you three minutes on it. anything. she still speaks for a living so I bet she's still got it.

Next week is the SWE Region I conference... I'm presenting that session on stay at home dads that you all helped me with. THEN the VP who we were having speak at the closing breakfast had to travel... my company is a big sponsor, so we get 5 minutes to talk to everybody about who we are and why we're a great place to work. They asked if I'd take her place and talk about us. Five minutes? NO SWEAT!

But it is an audience of like 300 people. So I emailed my toastmasters group and asked if I could have a speaker slot Wednesday, swap weeks with someone, for practice. They said sure.

I outlined all the wonderful things I wanted to say about my company and my journey and our industry and... it was a bit more than five minutes. My first test flight, our legacy, leadership and role models, community involvement, my pilot's license... I could get it all out in 7-8 minutes when I practiced alone in a room.

but that's awesome because in front of people I usually get excited and talk too fast and am under on time. so with extra content, that just means I can talk as fast as I want!

Well I got up at my toastmasters meeting with my impassioned speech and something awful happened, I felt myself start to get really flustered, kept going, said our service center was the length of five football field, saw my evaluator make a note, and just KNEW he'd caught that I said "field" instead of "fields" and I CHOKED. Just started stammering! and laughing nervously, and could NOT get a serious word out! I looked panicked at the most experienced guy in the room and said "WHAT DO I DO?!" and they were all like, "uh, calm down? TALK?"

I sat down, and they were like "no don't STOP it's okay!" so I read the rest of my speech off my outline from my seat. actually, it went pretty well. everybody said it was a great speech. I was able to take my eyes off, sort of get back into my groove.

I think what happened is that by talking too fast I honestly deprived my brain of oxygen. My evaluator was very kind... actually, he said when he was making a note, it wasn't about the use of plural words, it was about how football fields are a good way to describe the size of things. I was probably the only person who noticed my mistake... well, until I pointed it out to everybody. He said my introduction was great, then I just sort of accelerated, and that's when things got hard.

I finished in a little over 6 minutes. That's with at least of a minute of craziness where I got nothing out.

After the meeting everyone gave me more tips because they know this is important, I told them that I had to cut something big OUT of my speech! They said nah, screw it. So it's seven minutes, and it's supposed to be five, who times these things in real life? The point is that I am a great speaker and my content is wonderful.

I think that confidence is what screwed me over at this meeting, actually.

Okay, well you know what, it's the closing day breakfast. Who goes to those things? I bet everyone will sleep in.

I really do love my company and want it to sound cool. and I really want to be a great speaker who can inspire people! I have important things to say! that's what makes it so hard to think about myself just crashing!

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
astrogeek01
Feb. 27th, 2014 02:43 am (UTC)
breaaaaaaaaaaaathe remember to breathe! :)
shutterbug
Feb. 27th, 2014 03:39 am (UTC)
I always enjoyed the opening and closing speakers at the SWE conferences. So motivating and so many great stories. You will be wonderful. Practice some more and you will have it. You already have the passion. That's the hard part.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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