I have been in Toastmasters, an organization to improve communication and leadership skills, for about five and half years. The lessons during that time have been valuable. I have met many great friends at various clubs.
But the past two years in the seminary have slowed things down. My hectic academic schedule prevented me from giving speeches. I volunteered only for meeting roles to build on my leadership skills. That left speeches for the summertime. I made three during my summer vacation last year.
But I realized one thing. I could crank out speeches to meet benchmarks. But was I really improving my craft as a public speaker? I wanted to do a speech project well so I could improve in my communication skills.
This summer, I decided to give one speech at the Advanced Debaters Toastmasters in Midtown Manhattan on July 12, 2016. The speech focused on my vocation story to the seminary. But I pared the story down to fit the time slot of 5-7 minutes and focused on distilling three tips for finding a deeper purpose in life for people who might not share my faith.
I recorded and reviewed my practices on my cellphone. I felt good (maybe, too good) about the speech coming to the meeting.
Here is the recording of that speech (warts and all) at the meeting. My yearlong rustiness showed in the recording. I forgot to consider that my nervous energy would speed things up at the beginning of the speech. I apologize if I sound like I drank way too much espresso before the speech.
When I held the 2-3 minute Q&A session, I forgot to repeat the question. Here are the questions at the approximate times:
- What was my career before I joined the seminary? (6:37)
- Where am I studying for the priesthood? (7:06)
- What is the final clincher to join the seminary? (7:33)
- Is this what you want to do? Don’t you have to question this want often? (8:27)
- Will you be celibate? (10:00)
I’m happy that I made one small step in public speaking. But I will need to transition from recording my speech practices on my cellphone to filming with my digital camera. That would help me spot possible problems in presentation and delivery.