The Story Behind: The Hat

The other day I dashed from work to my Area’s International Speech and Evaluation Contest. I was there for three reasons: 1) To support my club member that had advanced to the Area level, 2) support the Area contest as a whole, and 3) be the test speaker.

I knew I could worm my way into the Area level contest because the Area Governor this year is also a member of my club; it was super easy to approach him and volunteer. He graciously accepted and I was pumped I would get to speak! (What a change from only a few years ago).

The day of the contest, a member called me up and asked if I was in the area and would give her a ride there. This was a lady that had stayed late at work just so she could attend: what a trooper! I got us there in good time and we set about making ourselves useful. International Speech Contest first, Evaluation Contest second.

As the test speaker I was given free rein to do whatever I chose, but was advised not to give a recent speech to avoid any bias to any of my fellow club members that would partake in the Evaluation Contest (good point). After a bit of thought, I decided it was the perfect time to revise an old speech and pay a second homage to The Hat.

For any of you who have seen my winning Humorist Speech, you will know at the end I don a toque. It is one of my punch points, but in the beginning the toque was not meant to be a joke (though I’m not complaining as to how it turned out). I first wrote in the toque (because that was what I was actually wearing when that story happened, but also) to pay tribute to the one speech that helped me discover my comedic side.

When I was making my way through the Competent Communication manual, I came across the Get Comfortable with Visual Aids speech (I believe it is #8). I knew the purpose of this speech was for the individual to practice using PowerPoint, or whatever visual aids they would ultimately need in a presentation. A noble purpose, and one I don’t wish to undermine in any way. I had seen many fellow members deliver great speeches with the aid of PowerPoint, etc.

However, I wanted to do something different.
But what?

Staring around my room one night, the idea hit me like lightning. I would base my speech on a comment made by a colleague about my toque, and use myself as the visual aid. This involved a couple of costume changes, ending off with me wearing my toque, my arms covered in (fake) tattoos. It was probably one of my most outlandish ideas for a speech, but by the time I did my big reveal I had my audience in fits of laughter. Many people told me later this was the first time they realized I could be very funny. To this day, members (who have seen that speech) still remember the story about The Hat. That was probably the speech where I stepped back and thought “I guess I can be that funny.”

It is certainly refreshing to revise and redo an old speech: you get a strong sense of how much you have improved since. I definitely got that sense as I performed the revised version at the Area contest. I felt more confident, I felt more comfortable, and I had a ton of fun leading up to the “big reveal.”

It is a funny thing, life. I based a speech on a comment a co-worker made, and that speech got me rethinking my humorous talents, which ultimately led me to the District stage and beyond. Who could have guessed?

Disclaimer: I have the pain tolerance of a newborn baby, so these are stick-ons.

Disclaimer: I have the pain tolerance of a newborn baby, so these are stick-ons.

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4 thoughts on “The Story Behind: The Hat

  1. Not real tattoos???? And I thought you were such a bad ass Vivien! lol
    I think it is SO exciting working and working on a speech and even working on old speeches to make them better. I think it’s time for TM to come up with a new manual- re-doing old speeches and improving them with feed back we’ve received and what we’ve learned. OUr club has actually been accenting this this year. One member this year has done a particular piece three times and the last time I saw her do it, she had me in tears. I think it’s crucial that we take the pieces we love and really do the most we can with them. Hey, why don’t you bring that speech to some of the Division contests? Maybe H????? 🙂

    • Haha, I considered getting a tattoo at one point, but I subsequently discovered I probably wouldn’t survive the painful process of getting one so that idea was dropped. Maybe I’ll head out to H sometime, but now I’ve let the cat out of the bag as to how I got my start in Toastmasters’ comedy 🙂 I agree with your point about working and reworking a speech, it’s so rewarding to see how the speeches become more and more polished.

      On a side note (after noticing the timestamp) isn’t a bit late for you to be up commenting on this little ole blog?

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