Sunday, June 20, 2010

My first toast

My company decided to start a Toastmasters club. One of my college professors, who is also a lawyer, said she joined Toastmasters so she'd gain confidence for speaking during trials. I've known a few other people who had joined Toastmasters, and while the idea initially sounded ridiculous to me, over time, I began to appreciate it more and more. So when my company started a Toastmasters club, I decided to join. This is my first speech. (Please bear in mind that it was meant to be spoken and not read).

Good morning. I'm Virginia, and today I'm giving my icebreaker speech. I've thought a lot about this, and I've decided that I'm not going to come up here and tell you about my family or where I went to college, or even what I did before working here, because, frankly it's not that interesting. I have a girl friend who was born in a Cambodian refugee camp. That's interesting. I was born in a hospital. With nurses and doctors. I then proceeded to have a stereotypical American childhood complete with scraped knees, hand-me-down bicycles and winter holiday concerts at school. Riveting.

Instead, I'm going to tell you all why I joined Toastmasters. I mean, we're all here, right? We all showed up, but what in the world are we doing here? I don't plan to run for president, or any other public office for that matter, so it's not as if I'm giving speeches for a living. I've been an accountant here for a year and a half, and I have yet to give a presentation on anything, so clearly my career isn't hanging on my ability to get up in front of a group of people and talk.

So what am I doing here? Well, I joined Toastmasters for three reasons. The first reason that I joined Toastmasters is because I want to be a happier person. Did you know that there is a whole science to happiness? Well, there is. And one of the things they've discovered is that learning something new makes people happier, even if they're not happy while learning it. They've also discovered that facing their fears makes people happier.

Going back to that American childhood, I had, I remember learning to ride a bike. I got on, all nervous and wobbly, and my mom or dad would hold the back with one hand and help me steer with the other. I wanted to look at my feet, to keep them on the pedals, but that didn't help me see where I was going, and the next thing I knew, suddenly I was riding a bike and it was thrilling and exciting! And I was proud!

Hopefully, Toastmasters will be a little like that. In the beginning, I'll need some guidance and I'll want to look at my feet, but eventually, hopefully, I'll get the hang of it. And even better, maybe I'll like it and feel proud and happy!

The second reason I joined Toastmasters is because, in case you haven't noticed, I'm a scattered thinker. My thoughts tend to be all over the place, and eventually I usually reign them in and tie them all together, but in the mean time, half the room is going, get to the point, Virginia, and the other half is checking their notes, going, how did she get from page six to page 92, and why did she give us 92 pages?

And suddenly I sound like a rambling idiot. 8:30 in the morning is a little early to sound like a rambling idiot, even for a Friday. Don't get me wrong: I like to start my weekend early as much as the next person, but this might be pushing the envelope a little too far. So, to avoid sounding like the neighborhood drunk at work, or anyplace else in adulthood, actually, I'm hoping to use Toastmasters to teach me how to get my thoughts organized and keep them coherent.

Finally, I joined Toastmasters because my secret dream is to be a writer. A writer needs to be able to tell a story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, and keep it interesting. A writer needs to introduce some memorable characters, make them interact, and wrap it up. I suck at writing conclusions. I think part of it is that when I'm reading a really good book, I don't want it to end. I want it to keep going, for those people to continue to live with me. This might explain why I like series so much.

So far this is my writing: blah, blah, blah; and when I run out of something to say, I just stop. Now no one knows what's going on, and any memorable characters I've created are sort of suspended over some cliff of unknown: do they live happily ever after? Does the boy get the girl? Does the antagonist receive just punishment? I don't even know.

For purposes of this speech, I'm going to take the easy way out: in conclusion, I joined Toastmasters to face my fears and learn something new so I can be a happier person, to learn how to organize my thoughts so I don't ramble (or at least limit said ramblings to the margarita-inspired kind), and to be come a better writer, y'know, like the kind that can reach conclusions. Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you enjoy Toastmaster, Fran used to belong and she would tell us very funny stories about her experiences.