Monday, May 15, 2006

Transfer-Wk 28,Mon-Bombed Toastmasters speech

As I mentioned last week, on Wednesday I did my fourth Toastmasters speech. I didn’t do so well, and messed up in a number of areas, including stuttering pretty badly.

The first thing I did wrong was plan my speech before reviewing the objectives laid out in my Toastmasters manual. This messed up everything, and left me scrambling for a topic at the last minute since my original idea did not mesh nicely with the objectives. Things spiraled from there, with me not having transparencies, not memorizing my speech, not reviewing my speech using my fluency targets, etc.

I thought I could cheat by listing my key points on large flip chart, but the marker ran out so my list was barely visible, there by aggravating the listener. I stuttered throughout my speech, forgot 12 out of 13 key symbolic phrases, dropped my notes, and knocked the best speaker trophy off the table before my speech ended.

It was a disaster.

Oh yeah, and I again forgot to record it. ;-)

I was shocked by the feedback I received though, since it was overwhelmingly positive. At first I wondered if I didn’t appear to do better than I felt, or if everybody thought I was stuttering when searching for words, but now I feel the comments I received were fluffed to artificially subsidize my feelings.

To my fellow Toastmasters, I must appear to be getting worse, since on a scale of 1-10, I probably started out as a 5, only to slide back to a 3. Little do they realize I was a 1 (or less) before my therapy last October, so I’ve actually improved.

Saturday I went to a Demosthenes Society meeting. I am constantly amazed by how much these meetings allow me to focus on the skills I learnt in therapy. The member who ran this meeting was speaking with amazing control. It was very inspiring!

We actually had a spelling bee.

What?!? You’re joking right? ahh … nope … we did.

First off let me say that I spell very poorly. I jokingly tell those who mock me; as a programmer, my compiler requires me to spell consistently, not correctly. ;-)

Secondly, I’m not sure about other stutterers, but I bet they felt the same amount of anxiety about spelling bees growing up as I did. To many people who stutter, forced speaking situations are guaranteed humiliation. So hearing ‘spelling bee’ automatically turns my stomach.

But it was a fantastic idea. The member who put it together, had us :
  1. Spell the word (which I think he got out of our PFSP manual)
  2. Use the word in a sentence
  3. Name the appropriate targets for the word.
Kudos to the guy who set up the meeting.

When I am exposed to things like Saturday’s spelling bee, or the meeting formalities at Toastmasters, it immediately seems kind of ridiculous. But you need to remember the purpose of the event. The purpose of both of these events is improved speech (accurate articulation of thoughts and/or fluency), and the activities revolve around these goals.

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


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