Thursday, December 08, 2005

Transfer-Wk 5,Thurs.-First Toastmasters speech


Last night I did my first Toastmasters speech. While there is definitely room for improvement, but I believe I did pretty good. You can see the video by clicking here.

My speech was originally cancelled for the Christmas party, but then scheduled again. As a result, I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare it. I actually wrote it on the train that morning, and when I printed it 45 minutes before the meeting, my printer started running out of ink. So I was sometimes looking at unidentifiable words.

In terms of my targets, the start was rough, but I regained control and felt good control for the rest. Even though I can’t really see it on the video. There were a few times when I got tongue tied, but got through it alright. But I probably should decrease my rate for added control, especially since I doubt my audience would have noticed an adverse effect on my delivery.

The biggest thing I noticed in my speech however; is that I wasn’t nervous. At first I thought it was because I just did a speech in front of a larger crowd at the refresher over the weekend, but in thinking it over; I was not nervous because I trusted my targets!

Holy smokes! I trusted my targets! Epiphany!

I guess that is what Yasser meant in his October 30th, comment “If you can successfully apply your targets in a feared situation just once or twice, the fear of that situation will quickly evaporate, and it'll be much easier for you to apply your targets in future.” While I understood Yasser’s comment when I first read it, I think I understand the implications at a whole new level now.

Comments received from other members were overwhelmingly positive. But some constructive comments included; less reading, more eye contact, and more physical gestures. I also noticed I was reading too much and not smiling enough, but the biggest mistake I made was trying to insert something into my speech when it appeared I was going to finish too quickly. You may see it about the 4 minute mark in the video. It looks like a really bad word switch, but in fact … I couldn’t find the right word.

Over all though, I thought my ending was strong. I’m pretty happy with it. The next one will be better.

Here is my speech if anybody is interested:

Imagine not being able to trust a basic motor skill, which is used hundreds or possibly thousands of times per day. That is the problem I face, along with millions of other stutterers.

My name is John MacIntyre, and although I could talk about my wife and 2 kids, my business of database and web-application development, or my interest in financial markets; I can think of nothing more applicable to my goals at Toastmasters.

According to popular statistics, one percent of the population stutters. It may not appear to be that many, because most people with a stutter have been able to successfully hide their stutter through word switching. Word switching is changing words on the fly when you foresee trouble.

Another popular statistic is that public speaking is the number one fear, even more feared than death! But can you imagine having that fear every time you are asked your name? Or every time you order a coffee? Or every time the phone rings?

These fears are common among stutterers. Many of us have let the fear become so strong, that major life decisions are made based on speech avoidance. Decisions like your chosen career, where you work, price shopping, what you buy, and even what you eat.

Well on November 4th, I completed a 3 week program to restructure my speech pattern for fluency. The program was 3 weeks long and an 8 hour per day commitment. We started speaking at the excruciatingly slow speed of 2 seconds per syllable. 8 speaking techniques were then added to our pattern and gradually our rate was increased to approximate the ¼ seconds per syllable, which is common among non-stutterers.

As a result of my therapy, you may observe me doing unusual things, like; speaking very slowly, placing my hand on my stomach to monitor my breathing, or repeating seemingly fluent words where the execution of proper technique was poor.

If anybody is interested, I have detailed the effects of stuttering on my life, my therapy, and my goals and challenges of fluency on my blog; There is also a before and after video of my stutter.

So in summary, stuttering is a life diminishing condition and I am going to over come it. And you, my fellow Toastmasters, are going to watch me do it!

Not meant as advice, please find a qualified therapist if you are interested in similar therapy.


At Sunday, March 16, 2008 6:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that's such an inspiring improvement.
Thanks so much for you posts and exposing the process, it's really encouraging to see a 'way out' - I'm going to try and follow in your footsteps and hope to be as successful :)


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