Never Give Up

While I was watching an episode of the TV show Drew Carey’s Improv-a-Ganza, a couple was pulled from the audience and asked a series of questions so the Improv actors could re-enact the couple’s first date. Paraphrased here is the couple’s story about how they met:

John and Patrice were both students in college. One night during a sorority-fraternity party John saw Patrice and instantly knew “she’s the one.” Patrice, on the other hand, was dating someone else at that time. For those few months that she continued to date that other guy, John kept pursuing Patrice. He would repeatedly call her up and asked her out on dates. Finally, Patrice said yes. Their first date involved John picking her up from a conference and driving her home. In the end, John’s persistence would produce three kids and a marriage that would last thirty five years…and counting.

This sweet story makes me wonder how easily we may give up in this day and age. How many of us, if we found out the guy/girl we liked was dating someone else at the time, would instantly start the process of forgetting about them and going on to find someone else? Sure there are always exceptions (and I am not trying to open up the potential can of worms), but if you saw the person you just knew was “the one”, would you give up so easily?

What if it was a company you wanted to work for, that you knew (not only the job but the people you had to work with) was the right fit for you?

What if you wanted to be a great speaker but for the first few months you felt like you fell flat on your face? (Not literally, I hope).

John knew what he wanted, and he remained focused. I’m pretty sure his marriage was filled with laughter, tears, and plenty of frustration, I get the feeling he’s pretty proud of himself for never giving up.

See below for the story of Patrice and John, told in their own words and reenacted by the Improvisers.

Remembering: One Year Ago

It is time. Fall of 2013 and in the Toastmasters’ World, that means the season has started for the Humorist and Table Topics Contests. Thousands of Toastmasters will come together to compete; they will be trying their hardest to make you laugh your butt off, or they will be trying their hardest to answer thought-provoking questions on the spot.

It is almost one year to the day when I stepped in front of my own home club and delivered my own Humorist Speech. I could have never known how far I would get to go.

Before my reign comes to an end at the 2013 Fall Conference, I’d like to hog the spotlight for a little longer and take a quick stroll down memory lane. Please allow me to share the video of my speech at the 2012 Fall Conference for District 21 (Richmond, BC), a speech that would allow me to win First Place at the Humorist Speech Contest.

Ladies and gentlemen, my speech: Mistaken Identity.

I hope you enjoy it.

Exciting News: I’m Branching Out!

A lot can happen in such a short amount of time. If you had told me a year ago I would get to spend a year as the funniest Toastmaster in B.C., create this blog, and get to meet all the individuals I have met along the way, I would have tried my hardest not to laugh.

Yet, here I am.

I’m excited to say I have recently become a part of the How to Be a Speaker community, co-founded by Ryan Avery, 2012 World Champion of Public Speaking, and Dr. Randy Harvey, 2004 World Champion of Public Speaking. I’ll be contributing by writing articles and learning from other great individuals.

Click on the link below to visit the How to Be a Speaker Community!

How To Be a Speaker.com

The Speed of Spit

A common occurrence for new speakers (yours truly was no exception) is the double whammy: speakers often speak too fast, and don’t make effective use of the pause.

The problem is understandable. You may have prepared a solid speech, but there may be one thing going through your mind when you stand in front of an audience: you want to finish your speech and sit down as fast as possible.

Throughout high school I participated in a number of school plays (disclaimer: I was anything BUT a great actress). My parents attended each performance and even videotaped some. What an eye opener! I thought I was speaking slowly enough but in reality I was a rambling chipmunk. Here are some tips I have discovered and used over the years.

Tip #1: Talk Too Slow
A great tip from my Theatre teacher: when giving a speech, try to be aware of how fast you are talking. Ideally you want to talk at about 75-80% of (what you think is your) normal speaking pace. If you feel you are talking just a bit too slow, you’re at the right pace. It is highly recommended you videotape your speech (or at least record your voice) to let you know if the rule (and what percentage) is effective for you.

Tip #2: Remember the speed of sound
One of the best pieces of advice I ever came across is to remember the speed of sound. While light travels extremely fast (299 792 458 m/s; thank you Google), the speed of sound is much slower at around 340 m/s (and if you were my Physics lab partner, the number we got came out to roughly 260 m/s).

Translated, it takes time for the words you have said to reach the audience’s ears. It will take additional time for them to listen, process, and understand what you have just said. My advice is to always look at your speech notes and determine where are the points you want to get across? When you are practicing your speech and get to that point, pause, and then continue on.

But how long should you pause? For years I used the very general rule of “pause until you feel it start to get awkward.” However, fellow Toastmaster Craig Hadden has written an article about the “1, 2, 3” rule. Personally I think it a much better guide in knowing how long you should pause.

Tip #3: Embrace the awkwardness
I can almost guarantee when you first start out and try speaking slower with more pauses, it will feel awkward. It will be awkward because it is counter-intuitive in getting you to end your speech sooner; we all know that thought dominates most new speakers. It will feel awkward because it won’t be something you are used to, nor will it be something that comes naturally to most of us: when we are in front of an audience and there is silence, your first instinct is to find something (anything!) to fill that silence. If you keep working on the speech pace and pause length you will be able to get a natural “feel” for what pace is right for you.