When it rains, it pours

Posted: - Modified: | speaking

Today (Thursday) is the area-level Toastmasters international speech contest. I don't feel prepared for it at all. Unlike the other contestants, I haven't spent weeks preparing for it. I still haven't finalized which anecdotes I'll tell and in what order. Argh.

Today I also have a chance to watch Take the Lead for free. Well, nearly free. TTC fare round-trip. Whatever. Antonio Banderas! Ballroom dance plus hip-hop moves! Antonio Banderas! Dancing!


Decisions, decisions. I'm the only person who's even somewhat prepared to represent my club at the speech contest, as no one else volunteered for the thing. If other people are bad (unlikely!), I might even win and go on to the district conference, etc. Even if I don't win, though, I'll have a chance to listen to other speakers and learn a
little bit more about style and technique.

From the take-the-first-circus perspective, Toastmasters wins hands down. This particular contest will occur only once. I can always watch the movie when it comes out in the cinema or six months from now during some Graduate House movie night. I'll probably end up watching it by myself. It's one of those cheesy feel-good movies that my guy
friends would probably not be caught watching.

But I'm _still_ going to wish the two events were on different days, and I'm still going to hate performing. I'm not excited about this contest. I'll just to have to grit my teeth and turn up the energy. I'll go to the contest, give my speech, listen to other people's speeches, and maybe learn a lot about what I like and don't like.

The last contest wasn't that much fun, either. I joined the humorous speech contest six months ago. The first speech relied on scatological humor, which was a bit crass. My speech was so-so, although I got a few laughs. I didn't really find the last speech funny, but it was more of a speech – used more of the techniques, had more special

I know competitions are nice for forcing myself to grow. I learned so much because of my programming competitions. In terms of speaking, though, I much prefer listening to and interacting with the speakers I meet at conferences. I don't like competing head-on with people. I'd rather measure myself against a standard, competing against myself to
get better.

I'm just not excited about my upcoming speech. Come to think of it, I'm not that excited about learning from the other speakers, either, not if the speech quality's like the last contest.

<sigh> Maybe this is a lesson in just doing something. I'll probably go to the contest and do the best I can, but I'm going to have to fix this sense of unease. The Toastmasters people aren't bad. They've been nice to me, and I'll probably find enough to keep myself busy and involved. Then I'll go home, heat up some dinner – whatever's in the
fridge, probably lasagna – and have myself lots and lots of hot chocolate. Maybe I'll bug James or Mike for some company so that the place isn't too quiet.

I wish my family and friends were here (or at least in a closer timezone!) so that I could ask them for advice, or so that they could push the Toastmasters event from being something I have to get through to something I'd enjoy. I'm telling _our_ story, and it's kinda sad having to cast it as a bloody speech with an introduction, body and conclusion instead of just part of our shared memory. Ay, Clair and the rest of my barkada gathered around that vegan sinigang, my father making jokes… How am I going to tell this story without missing you all terribly?

I don't want to give a speech. I want to be able to talk to friends. Right. That's how I should think of it. A roomful of strangers who are paying more attention to the structure of my speech than to its content – I should forget that, and treat them as people to whom I'd like to introduce my other friends, to whom I'd like to tell stories about the warmth I've felt. I shouldn't think about anything else I could be doing. I should live in the moment.

I'm not ready to give this speech. Then again, I've never been ready to give any speech. I've always just gone out there and done it. I've promised not to be intellectually lazy, not to take the easy way out, and that includes this. Watching a movie would be self-indulgent. This is going to be annoying, but it'll probably help me grow. And if it
doesn't, well, I'll have hot chocolate and an unexpectedly productive evening…

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