The mission of Toastmasters 7 club is to provide members with a mutually supportive and positive environment to practice public speaking while receiving constructive feedback to improve communication and leadership skills.
One thing I think is especially striking about our club (besides the fact that we like to have fun!) is the members and guests are in a safe and comforting space to explore and push past their comfort zone in developing their communication skills. Over the past six years, I have listened to and been moved by too many speeches to count.
I think it is the speeches where our speakers describe their vulnerability that tends to have a dramatic impact – in both subtle and overt ways. That opens a door, inviting us to develop and strengthen our sense of empathy and ultimately, become better people.
Last week’s meeting was held on Valentine’s Day, our Vice President of Public Relations gave a speech that resonated with me a great deal. I was also her evaluator and she wanted me to evaluate her based on her vocal variety, stage presence, and storytelling while displaying emotional vulnerability – this is a degree of skill that only advanced speakers can execute well, and Elaine did so.
I asked Elaine what motivated her to give the speech. To which she responded –
“When I signed up to give a speech on Valentine’s Day, I wanted to push myself further out of my comfort zone by sharing an emotional story. My past speeches have been informational without touching on emotions whatsoever. In the past months, I’ve heard many powerful and vulnerable speeches that really touched my heart – Jeremy and his transformation because of his daughters, Tomo and the loss of her father, Landon’s area contest winning speech and recently Dave Z.’s inspirational 10th speech.
Initially I thought about telling the story about my husband and how he is the opposite of my Dad but I didn’t want to just talk about my love life. Instead I wanted to share a part of me that others can learn from. I realized this after listening to my daughter’s speech. In comparison with the rest of the students who did their TED talk at school, Eyva’s speech was encouraging. This inspired me to open myself and also present an encouraging speech . I felt my story of discovering self-compassion can move someone towards discovering their own.
The speech also made those raw emotions come alive – in a way it helped to revisit these emotions as I drew strength from them. Through suffering can I only grow stronger.”
And that is a sentiment I suspect a lot of you can relate to. Thank you, Elaine, for sharing your story.
*Thanks to Joy Clausen Soto, Guest Speaker, and winner of the evening’s Speakathon for the inspiration of the title of this post. Her speech was based off Zig Ziglar’s use of the word ‘Fantastic’. Yes, sometimes we have Speakathons because we have so many outstanding members waiting to give equally outstanding speeches.