Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My First Toastmaster's Speech Today

I actually like speaking in public.  I had jobs in the Army where I got paid to speak in public and I loved it.  Steve joined Toastmasters a month or so ago.  It meets every other week for an hour at lunch time.  Normally I don't plan to do anything but school and medical appointments during the day, but out of sheer jealousy that he gets to do what he wants when he wants, kinda, I decided to go too.  After all, it's up my alley. 

So, I started going too.  I joined at my second meeting and gave my first speech today.  The Toastmasters plan begins with 10 speeches that are spelled out in the member book (you can also check out the requirements by googling Toastmasters speeches). 

The first speech is called the "Ice Breaker".  The speaker has 4-6 minutes to introduce himself/herself to the group.  Then an evaluator gives feedback in front of the entire group about the speaker's presentation.  I must say, the intention is to build the speaker up and never to tear down so there is no need to fear the evaluation.  And, one of the members gave great advice today.  He said to treat the evaluations like a duck.  Take what you find useful and let the rest roll off your back.  Bingo.  I think that's applicable to other things in life as well.

What was the most difficult part?  Not giving it, not practicing it, but writing it.  Ugh.  I've given many speeches before, but how does one decide how to introduce herself to a group in a mere 4-6 minutes?  

There is a saying that there are three kinds of speeches:  the one you planned to give, the one you gave and the one you wish you gave!

If you would like to read what I said (~very eloquently~) continue reading to see the entire speech. 

My Story

Recently I flew home to the Philadelphia area for my high school reunion.   One of my former 900 classmates, whom I didn’t know very well, greeted me and said, “What do you do?”  Then he kind of shook his head and  thought about rephrasing  that, “No, I mean, what’s your story?”  He said he thought that was much more interesting than, “What do you do?”

Me too. 

What’s my story?  If I told you the whole story now, you probably wouldn’t buy the book when it comes out….  Here are a few snippets from sporadic chapters.

Chapter 2:  Philadelphia
Yes, I’m starting at chapter 2 and skipping the whole introduction chapter with, “Born the youngest of two in a middle class family…etc.”  Since I lived a few blocks from the border of Philadelphia I’m officially from suburban Philadelphia.

From the time I was about 13 I would occasionally walk to the train station a few blocks from my house and ride to downtown Philadelphia to experience the excitement of the big city.  Stepping out of the train station I would look up at all those skyscrapers then look forward at all the stores where I planned to shop and, as I was walking I would (sniff), there it is, the smell of fresh baked Philadelphia soft pretzels on a cart on the street corner.  Two for a dollar. They came in a brown lunch bag, and if you were  fortunate, they were still warm.  Mustard sat right there on the cart if you want to squirt some on your pretzel.  I always did.

I never thought back then that the vendor, who put the pretzels in the bag, had no public restroom to use and nowhere to wash his hands.  It wasn’t until years later, after going to nursing school, that I would think of things like that. 

Chapter 4: White Water Rafting
When I was a senior in high school the college that I was planning to attend for nursing sent me a post card with a picture of people white water rafting.  The card said that when I went to college, if I chose, instead of taking the boring gym class they offered I could take the adventurous Army ROTC course and do fun things like white water rafting. 

I didn’t know anything about ROTC or the Army, but I loved adventure.  So, I signed up.  Two years later I signed on the dotted line stating that I would go into the Army as a nurse after graduation.  I never looked back.  I loved the Army.

I never did get to go white water rafting.  I’ve gone skydiving, paragliding, jet skiing, traveled in four continents, and ran marathons , but I still have not gone white water rafting.

Chapter 7:  Jesus Freak
My husband told me that one time when he was in a room full of soldiers in the ID card section he saw a young soldier at the desk getting dog tags.  The man behind the desk disinterestedly asked, “Religious preference?”  That young soldier thought for a few seconds and then in front of the whole room he boldly  stated  “Jesus Freak.  Just put Jesus Freak.” 

You can call me what you want:  Christian, Christ Follower, Jesus Freak, or the one heard last week:  Different.  What  I am sinner who knows it, who wants forgiveness, and has that forgiveness.  I am someone  who knows where I’m going when I die.  Heaven.

I found it challenging to narrow down my Ice Breaker  to just a few topics  and to keep it brief.  I chose to tell you about where I grew up, how I decided to enter the Army and about my relationship with Jesus.
I’m going to put a bookmark here in my story.  However,  I look forward to telling you more of it  in the future.


  1. and I am so glad I met you and will be around to hear the rest of it! LOVED your approach. Now...if you could give me a courage transfusion, so I would have the gumption to go to T/M!

    1. Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear. ~Mark Twain

      Courage is being afraid but going on anyhow. ~Dan Rather

      Carol Anne, The people at Toastmasters want you to succeed. They are used to seeing Fraidy-Cats at their meetings, so you will fit right in! You know I've skydived before and I learned that you need some fear when you skydive or you might forget to put your chute on! Seriously, we would hear stories about people with thousands of jumps getting so comfortable they forgot their chute (not sure if it's true, but it's make a good point that fear is not always bad).

      I suggest that you call the local president and talk to him/her to get to know someone before you go. You might also take a friend or family member with you to the first meeting.

      I realized that for me it is actually hard figuring out what to say. TM will make you a better writer (not that you need help in that area) but I think anyone can improve.

      Let me know when you go to a meeting and what you think of it.

  2. This is great Sue! Love hearing bits of your story :)...look forward to more! Fun to hear how you became a nurse!

    1. Hi My Cyber Friend! I plan to keep posting my TM speeches. If you google TM speeches you can read or watch a bunch. Pretty interesting.