“Leave Them On The Desk” or “The Night My Invisible Umbilical Cord Was Cut”

It was late 2008 and I had been enjoying my Toastmasters experience for approx. 6-7 months and was looking forward to delivering Speech #5 from The Competent Communicator manual.

Upon delivering my speech I sat down and a Toastmaster of some 25+ years of experience said to me ‘next time you do a speech, I want to see you leave your speech notes here on the table.’ I remember looking at him a bit aghast, saying “you mean I have to try to do my speech without having notes to refer to?” He said “Yes.” Gulp!

This was something I had not contemplated doing at all, ever.

What if I forgot where I was up to? What if I had a ‘mental-blank’ up there?

He reminded me that Toastmasters was a ‘mutually-supportive environment’ i.e. every member sitting in the audience ‘wants you to succeed’ so that in the event of any hiccups they would understand. This is one of the great things about Toastmasters. It’s where we learn and practice so that we can take our skills ‘to the real World’, outside.

Preparation is but one of the successful keys to the success of the speech. Preparation in terms of not only writing a speech but preparing your mindset as well.

I had it in my mind that I could not do a speech without notes. This was true up to that point in time.

With the support of the members of my club, I delivered speech #6 without notes as challenged. Since that day I have only used notes on a small number of occasions, being my incoming and outgoing Club President Addresses at a Changeover Dinners and others being when using bullet points during PowerPoint demonstrations.

Accepting and delivering that challenge to use ‘no notes’ that night changed my mindset on what was possible for me in that regard and built my confidence a little more, which is one of the things being a member of Toastmasters International can do for you.

In my next article on Public Speaking, I’ll be talking about “A Speech Contest. Are You Crazy?”

Written by David Johnson
26 September 2015

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