October 12, 2005

Bulk view

Stepping outside my comfort zone

I get a thrill out of speaking at the edge of my comfort zone. In my
Toastmasters speech about rediscovering theatre, I teetered on the
brink of tears, my voice slightly hoarse with emotion. Even with a few
years of experience in public technical speaking, tension still closes
up my throat and pushes me to speak faster.

I have to stretch my voice and my skills. Just like Kuya Ed had me go
over the rough spots in my vocal range when he was teaching me how to
sing, I have to go over the rough spots in my vocal and emotive range
when I speak. Each challenge stretches me and makes me grow.

The competition is an excellent opportunity for me to learn how to use
humor. Greg’s right. People don’t really listen to speakers in order
to be educated. They want to be entertained. It’s scary as heck, but I
want to learn how to do that. It’s fun. =)

Speech practice

I’ve just realized how amazingly useful a digital voice recorder is in
preparing for a speech. I can record myself, listen for awkward
segments or good phrases, and repeat until I’m satisfied. I’m also
thrilled to find that the scraps-of-paper approach to organizing
speech material works really well for me. =)

My current speech preparation procedure:

– 1. I capture speech ideas in a small notebook. Come to think of it, I

should transfer speech ideas to a dedicated notebook for even more

– 2. I develop speeches by scribbling material onto little scraps of

paper and laying them out on the floor or on a desk. I prefer
working on the floor because there’s more space.

– 3. I record a few runs while reading my notes, revising the material

as I discover what works and what doesn’t.

– 4. I gradually move to recording runs without looking at my notes.

My speech isn’t perfectly polished and I still stumble over a few
words, but I managed to do a lot of work in the last hour and a half.
=) Whee!

Toastmasters Humorous Speech contest tomorrow

Searching the Net for tips on Toastmasters humorous speech competitions, I ran across
Steve Pavlina‘s blog entry about his division’s humorous speech contest last year.

So if you ever find yourself running up against your limits in some area of your life, see if you can find someone who’s already pushed past that limitation in their own life.

I’m looking forward to the contest!

Nearly full CPU utilization

This week is quite a challenge. Two major things on my plate: the
Toastmasters competition tomorrow and the lab report due on Friday.
Another thing to keep in mind is the field trip tomorrow morning. Next
week, a few other big things: CASCON and a lab I need to teach.

Was I wrong to take the Toastmasters competition on? It’s optional,
after all, and I could very well not have volunteered. Still, I think
it’ll be a good experience, and it’s already taught me far more about
public speaking than I expected. So it’s not a terrible idea, just

I’m juggling a bit more than I’m comfortable with, but it should be
doable, and if I _do_ need to hit the panic button, I think I’ll be
able to drop enough from my schedule to do well.

MIE mishaps

I’m starting to think that my class finds me amusing. They laugh
whenever they see me get stressed out.

Today was supposed to be one of my easy days. Prof. Shepard was going
to do a demo, and all he needed was a Net connection. The audiovisual
people sent the confirmation last week. Great. Wonderful.

Except that the room didn’t actually come with a computer and Prof.
Shepard didn’t have a laptop. Ack!

I ran to Rosebrugh Building and borrowed a laptop from the
undergraduate office. I lugged the heavy Dell bag back to Bahen as
quickly as I could, and frantically set it up.

It booted into Windows 98. Had a bad feeling about that… Checked out
the TCP/IP settings and saw far too many entries. Not good. Felt
around the box. No Ethernet port! No Ethernet cable, either. Panic
panic panic.

Would’ve nearly hyperventilated in front of the class, ‘cept had a
hard time breathing because the A/V guy was a heavy smoker. Waaah.

Ran out again, grabbed a patch cable from my lab, and borrowed a
laptop from one of the students sitting near the back. Still didn’t
work! Panic panic panic. Rebooted. Checked ipconfig and realized I
missed a “0” in the IP address.

Fixed the error. Got Google to show up. Whee! Did whirl-around of joy.
Class laughed. Remembered I was in class. Tried to, err, grin in a
dignified manner. Went back to setting everything up.

Student in question was big fan of Mozilla Firefox and had even
bothered fixing Start Menu. Good for him. =) Brought up demo requested
by professor. Was trapped by seating arrangement in front part of
lecture theatre. Could not go back to my seat. Tried to inconspicuously
lean against wall.

Realized red blouse and bright orange skirt not conducive to
inconspicuous hiding. Tried not to fidget as would have been even more

Saw professor switch back to browser and bring up Javascript-heavy
application. Just _knew_ there were going to be cross-platform
problems. Thanked lucky stars knew exact command name to call up
Internet Explorer. Saved the day again.

‘Course, still responsible for things not going as smoothly as
planned. Meep.