I went to a Toastmasters meeting. I used to belong, years ago, and decided with my teaching and writing on public speaking, it would be a good time to re-immerse myself.
The meeting was at noon. The second speaker was a young man named Kevin. When he began his speech, my thought was he was new to speaking. Then I didn't have another thought until the end of his speech. I was too busy being memorized and astounded by the speech this man delivered.
His topic was "Sincerity" and Kevin delivered a speech called "I was afraid," in which he proceeded to list all the things he (and all of us) are afraid of: measuring up, making our families proud of us, being accepted, hoping we fit in at work, making good choices, managing money, driving away our personal demons.
I wish I could have taped Kevin's speech to show to my public speaking classes because it was the perfect example of what I tell them over and over: You don't have to be a "perfect" speaker. You just have to connect with your audience and be real with us.
Kevin was real. His eye contact could have been better and he swayed a little too much but it didn't matter. He riveted every audience member with his depth and openness. He was himself during his speech, through and through, and that is what any audience member is seeking. A real person talking about things that matter to them.
Once the meeting ended I approached Kevin. "I loved your speech," I said. "It was fantastic."
He thanked me then said, "Do you write articles for the News & Record?" (our local paper)
"Yes," I replied.
He smiled. "You're the reason I'm here! I read one of your articles on public speaking and Toastmasters and that's why I decided to check it out and join."
Hel-lo! How awesome was it to hear that? As writers we so rarely get feedback or hear anything about our work once it's published. I cherish the fact that this man who gave this wonderful speech that spoke to me said I was the one who got him there.
It was a a very, very good day.