I Broke the Ice at Toastmasters!

 

This isn’t me!!! It’s one example of a Toastmasters Icebreaker speech – you only need to watch the first minute to see her concept was clearly out of the box!  😉

 

 

During the last month, I posted here and here about my enormous fear of public speaking and my experience joining Toastmasters International.

A couple weeks ago I scheduled my first author talk. Setting that date motivated me to get used to public speaking by committing to Toastmasters for a minimum of six months. 

On Wednesday I gave my first Toastmasters Icebreaker speech. Those six minutes were some of the MOST nerve-wracking minutes of my life! After I spoke, I plopped down in my chair and felt vulnerable. I was incredibly embarrassed about my public speaking shortcomings, but I can’t deny I was proud as hell of myself!

I had come a long way from my psych unit hospitalizations.

I had practiced my speech “From the Darkness to the Light” close to thirty times without shaking. I spoke in front of my dog Lucy, in front of my family, and in front of my mentor, the President of our Toastmasters group.

During every practice run, I was still as a stone. But when I stood in front of the Toastmasters group on Wednesday, my body and voice shook like a freakin’ quaking Aspen tree the entire six minutes – even my face shook. My shakiness threw me off so much. I was totally humiliated, but at least I didn’t sprint for the exit!

Each speaker receives a few minutes of detailed oral feedback from the Evaluator immediately after the speech. In addition to that, she gets brief written comments from each group member to take home and review. Here are some of the following remarks that were given to me:

“I thought you had been doing this a long time, had I not met you first,”

“Excellent Icebreaker! Relax, enjoy, your story is compelling!”

“What an inspiration you are – I can’t wait to watch you growing in confidence as a speaker!”

“You are a natural speaker. You did not seem terribly nervous. Great material, and putting yourself into your speech. Relax! You are among friends!”

“No need to reflect on your nervousness when you’re on stage”

(At the end of my talk I apologized for being so nervous!)

I was going to post my speech here, but there was a glitch in the recording and it didn’t record. I’ll make sure I don’t have the same technical difficulties during my next speech so you can see if I shake like Elvis in his heyday…or not.

Here’s a sample from my practice session with my mentor…

Have you faced one of your profound fears lately? Do you plan to do so anytime soon? Please share! 

Have a great weekend!

Love,

Dyane

 

Dyane Harwood’s memoir is Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw. Birth of a New Brain will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017, and it’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon here; Kindle pre-sales are coming this summer!

 

I Faced My Fear! (Well, Partially…)

Last Wednesday I went to my first Toastmasters Meeting and I survived! (I wrote about my fear of public speaking in this post and described a little bit about what the Toastmasters do.)

With a groovy name chapter name like “The Redwood Ramblers,” how could these Toastmasters not be a cool bunch? Nevertheless, I had my doubts…

I had a surprisingly good time! After the hour-long meeting flew by, I wanted to linger and get to know these brave souls!

I had almost bailed an hour before the meeting began, but I knew if I did that, I’d feel rotten. Plus one of the members had taken the time to contact me a few days beforehand (I RSVP’d on their Meetup site), and she encouraged me to show up. I felt compelled to give this group a chance.

I’m so glad I faced my fear.

When I arrived, I was made to feel so welcome by the members. Guests are allowed to be a fly on the wall, and that was a blessing since I wasn’t quite ready to speak! (Um, that’s my understatement of the year!)

This is me!!!

Everyone gave a short talk approximately four minutes long (most members spoke less than that) and each person was interesting. It was “Soap Box” day and we met outside in a park, but the meetings are usually in a building.  The topics ranged from inspiring to educational to “ranty” to funny.

The meeting was well organized; it started and ended right on time since it was the lunch hour. There were treats that included red velvet cookies – how exciting! 😉 (There were healthy snacks too.)

My first assignment or “Project One,” is called “The Ice Breaker.” I was given a packet of materials and the instructions for The Ice Breaker are four pages (!) but I’ll sum it up for you:

For your first speech project you will introduce yourself to your fellow club members and give them some information about your background, interests, and ambitions. Practice giving your speech to friends or family members, (I interject here: Lucy is in for it, that poor dog!) and strive to make eye contact with some of your audience.

You may use notes during your speech (I interject again: HELL YEAH, I’LL USE NOTES!!!) if you wish. Read the entire four pages before preparing your talk.

Objectives: To begin speaking in front of an audience

To begin speaking in front of an audience

To discover speaking skills you already have and skills that need your attention

Time: four to six minutes

Gulp.

The next meeting is the Open House, and I want to do my first project the week after that, and then I’ll report back here!I ran a DBSA peer-to-peer support group for moms with bipolar. I like how Toastmasters is also based on peer-to-peer feedback and interaction.  

Simply getting to the first meeting was a huge step, and their slogan says it all for me:

“It all begins with that first visit.”

On a final note, yesterday my good friend, the author/blogger Lisa Henderson, shared a very cool find with me – you may already know about it because I think it has been around for a year.

(Shameless plug: Be sure to check out her new book Paw on Amazon, her blog Passionate Reason is here.)

These products made a big impression on the girls and Craig who are massive Star Trek fans. As cute as the suits are, I think I’m taking a pass until they come up with a Tribble-themed suit!

Okay, my friends, have a great weekend! 

Lots of love,

Dyane

p.s. Are you going to do something you’re afraid to do anytime soon? Tell me about it!

Dyane Harwood’s memoir is Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw.

Dr. Henshaw is the co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatric Disorders, 2nd Edition published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in March 2017. 

Birth of a New Brain will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th, 2017, and it’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon here; Kindle pre-sales are coming this summer!