I had early inklings my speech today would not go as planned. First was the fact I couldn't seem to memorize it. Let me clarify that I never memorize a speech word for word. But I always know where I'm heading and one sentence always flows logically to the next for me. But practicing this speech, I couldn't keep my transitions straight. Plus, I switched to a new ending this morning and was trying to make sure I remembered how to segue into that.
So I give my speech and almost from the word go, I blow it. Blow it as in I wasn't delivering the speech I had prepared. I was delivering the lines, but the order was all wrong. I was thinking ahead, trying to remember what came next instead of paying attention to what I was saying. Then I got to a place and did something I have never done before in a speech...I blanked.
That's right. Just a vast whiteness inside my mind. It wasn't so much I couldn't remember the words as it was I had messed myself up by going out of order with my thoughts. So when I got to near the end of speech--ha ha--I had already delivered that section. What to do? My mind went blank.
I did exactly what I teach my public speaking students to do...I turned around and calmly walked back to the podium, glanced at my notes to get a bearing, then continued. (Thank God I had my notes. I haven't brought notes to the podium for a speech in over two years. But a little voice inside me whispered "just in case." Hooray for tiny little voices. And hooray for me for listening to it).
Overall, the pause wasn't tragic. It was still a decent speech. And oddly, I find myself almost elated. I'm thrilled I could mess up that bad and still pull off that good a speech. If I had panicked, it could have been a disaster. So that Toastmaster's training has paid off. It's like I tell my students--you'll know you messed up or skipped a major section, but your audience doesn't know what you have planned and they'll never know the difference.
I got good feedback and advice from the group for the next contest, which is March 28th. "More emotion" is what I was told. (Ha. Vulcans don't do emotion). I feel better about my speech content and topic, which I was doubting. Everyone agreed it was a good match for the contest. Now I just need to restructure my speech so that it flows for me and is easier to remember.
I'm just so pleased. Normally I'd be gnashing my teeth and mentally berating myself for the goof, but I feel good about the experience. Toastmasters--I strongly recommend the group to anyone who thinks they can't do public speaking.