Adam’s speeches at Rowville Toastmasters

Share:Share on FacebookEmail this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageShare on LinkedIn

For most of my life I was scared to speak in front of an audience.

During the rare instances in which I spoke or presented, I’d get red in the face and my mind would go blank in the middle of a sentence. There would be anxiousness for hours beforehand and I’d finish the ordeal physically and emotionally exhausted.

I somehow managed to stay under the radar and avoid almost every speaking and performing opportunity at high school. If I had been asked to make a speech in front of assembly, there was just no way I’d do it.

When I began studying engineering at Uni, I decided to stop hiding and start practicing. I didn’t want to enter the workforce with the same fear and anxieties about speaking and be overlooked for leadership roles as a result.

My friend Lockie and I became ‘volunteer trips and tour leaders’ (for the free adventures!) and regularly spoke in front of 50 or so students.

He was fine with speaking. In fact, he loves it. A pure natural that enjoyed speaking on stage and managed to get the travellers at ease and pumped up for the trip.

I was fine talking and joking in front of a few people, but everything changed as soon as the group size grew. If our bus had a working microphone, it would squeak and hiss as I stumbled, head down, through a list of things to mention. I’d usually go red in the face and didn’t connect with the people in front of me.

One experience was particularly bad. At the beginning of a trip along the Great Ocean Road, I had a total mind blank and some students laughed in surprise as I continually lost track of what I had to say.

 

So, hiding didn’t get me anywhere, and ‘exposure therapy’ alone was too difficult and too slow!

 

The same reaction kept occurring and I knew I had to look deeper to change it. But didn’t know of anything powerful enough to change this, so I put the problem on the shelf for another couple of years.

A couple of years ago, I learned the techniques of EFT and Matrix Reimprinting. Whilst learning and practicing with a colleague, we decided to address my public speaking.

We did a few sessions which were quite intense. In some cases, we went back to memories when I was young at school and put on the spot by the teacher and told to answer a question in front of the class and had no idea of the answer and was made to feel stupid and that I’d never have something good to say.

There were also pretty extreme past live memories which popped up to be worked on. There was a time when I was speared in the back and another when I was impaled and excommunicated for speaking my truth.

After the really strong emotional relief from the past life memories, I was sick as a dog the next morning and remained so for three and a half weeks! For the first two weeks I woke up with my entire body aching as if I’d been in a boxing match and coughed up a lot of phlem.

From a META-Health perspective, the creation of phlem occurred as a result of my body going into rest and repair mode following the resolution of the clearing of the ‘fear of death’ (affecting the lungs) as well as ‘territory fear’ (eg. bronchial mucosa).

It was quite a significant sickness, which occurs sometimes when we clear emotion and/or make a shift in our lives. Fortunately, it doesn’t occur every time, otherwise most of us would be perpetually sick!

But now, I knew I could speak!

 

I joined my local Rowville Toastmasters Club to get some positive experiences up on stage and learn to communicate clearly and then hopefully educate, inspire and entertain.

 

Here is a blog of my journey and I have recorded the speeches to share the experience.

 

CC1: The Ice Breaker

 

CC2: Organise your speech

The second speech was challenging. My scheduled speeches the Rowville Toastmasters Club occur every two months or so – which is too slow for my goal of teaching META-Health around Australia in 2015.

I said that I wanted to step up and practice my speeches faster.

I asked… and certainly received!

My mentor contacted me and asked, “Would you like to talk at an Evaluation workshop?” Without stopping to think and hence doubt, I replied “Yes, absolutely!”

A few weeks passed in which I was very busy with clients and organizing the locations and dates of future workshops. I had planned to develop the speech during the week leading up to the event. But before I knew it, it was Saturday, the day before the event…and I slept most of the day because I had spent Friday night at a conscious dance event which flowed onto to the beach for swimming in the moonlight and watching fire twirlers. Whilst I left ‘early’, I didn’t get home until 6am, slept and then woke up to run a meditation at Summer Healing Power Yoga in Glen Waverley…and then finally worked out a rough layout for the speech.

I refined it a bit and practiced it once on the Sunday morning and drove to the South Melbourne Town Hall. I walked in, hoping to find a relaxed setting of only a few people… and had an “Ohh… shit!” moment in which my heart sank like a stone when I encountered 50 or so professionally dressed people, many of which have been involved in Toastmasters for 5 or more years.

The purpose for the second Toastmasters talk is to “Organise your speech”.

The workshop was great, but I wasn’t fully focused upon it because I wasn’t clear upon the structure of my speech…and no idea how it might end!

I ducked out for a bit and sat with how I was feeling. I felt like all the self-belief that had been fueling and guiding me for the past few weeks had disappeared into a black hole. I became present to the core belief behind these feelings, “I’m shit and I’m going to fail”.

I did some internal processing and had a tear run down my cheek as I allowed myself to feel what I was most afraid of (the experience of doing the speech, totally stuffing it up and walking away feeling like a total failure). I allowed myself to feel it as if it was really happening.

Having acknowledged, faced and embraced these feelings, they were safe to pass.

I did a few adjustments to the speech and walked back in the room and sat down.

I looked around. Everything was the same as when I had left.

But I was different.

I was not afraid. I had already experienced the worst of what could have happened, and survived. So I knew I could do it, and even if I didn’t, I would walk out proud knowing I had put myself out there and done my best.

I got up to do the speech and it went something like this;

The feedback was very nice. Being an evaluation workshop, everyone did their own evaluation and three people came to the front to present their commendations and recommendations. Overall the feedback was positive, and many said they were surprised to find out later that it was only my second speech.

The main recommendation that they gave was for me to speak with more passion and animation. To show as well as tell, and embody the importance and urgency of my message.

I totally agree. Now that I know I can ‘survive’ speeches, its time to thrive!

 

CC3: Follow Your Awareness

My last speech went well. It was a lot to remember with almost no preparation in front of an audience of experienced toastmasters.

For this speech, I just wanted to have fun so I decided to change tact. Rather than educate formally, I thought I’d use a couple of lighthearted stories to illustrate an important lesson I’ve learned.

The brief for this speech was ‘Get to the point”, so my primary aims were to;

  1. Present a speech with an obvious point
  2. Entertain through experience so audience members remember the point (for longer than 2 minutes) and perhaps use it in their lives
  3. Don’t use notes

 

I really sat down to experiment and play with this speech. I know that if I am to plan ahead I will learn more, progress faster and most importantly, develop the ability to create an informative, interesting and inspiring speech on the spot or with very short notice.

To my perception, this speech didn’t go well. It seemed much better in practice with greater vocal variety and more emphasis and clarity upon the opening and concluding statement. The body of the speech I condensed on the night also by removing a lot of details that were nice but not necessary to ‘get to the point’.

The experience was quite strange and I was only slightly nervous in fleeting moments. It was strange because I was in a state of grieving. I’d not slept a wink the night before, had barely eaten for 24 hours and could probably have been knocked out cold by a feather duster. A couple of people I talked to during the day suggested that I pull out and have an early night, but being an effective speaker, regardless of what was happening in my life is very important to me and what I want to do with my life.

As soon as I sat down after the speech I had tears welling up in my eyes as the pressure valves released. I knew it was a tough time, but it was only then that I realized how much emotional stress I’d been under and it was a great relief to be able to relax from then on.

The feedback from the evaluator was extremely nice. I thought it was because he could see the state I was in and was carefully tiptoeing around me in case I imploded. But apparently he and the rest of the toastmasters were genuinely pleased with how it went and enjoyed the quirky story and the lesson behind it.

Overall, I’m glad I did it, and funnily enough, having some ‘heavy stuff’ going on actually helped me rise about the common anxieties I have by realising how little they matter.

 

 

CC4: If you see it, you can be it!

 

Another speech down!

Non-surprisingly, the aspects of the speech that I focused upon went really well…. and the aspects I neglected were noticeably missing.

As ones experience in speaking grows and develops it becomes easier each time to cover all aspects. It’s quite like when we learn to drive, for when we first sit in the drivers seat, turn on the ignition and very cautiously begin to drive, almost everything takes our full attention. We need to start off in a quiet area with nothing else to worry about except the steering and our speed. We can quickly develop the basic skills until they become almost completely automatic.

I signed up for this speech after another speaker pulled out and didn’t have time to solidify concrete examples for the second half of the speech. In truth, I also held back a bit because I knew it would be challenging for some of the audience to hear and believe what I (and in fact everyone) can do.

The strongest aspects of the speech can’t be heard on the recording (although you may be able to sense them in comparison to the previous talks.

I really stood up. I walked up confidently and assuredly moved the lectern to the side of the stage. The removal of the barrier in front of me made it possible to walk around the stage and use natural hand gestures. In fact, my whole body relaxed and opened up, including the projection of my voice.

I had two intentions for the speech.

The first intention was to invoke an experience, message and belief that people could take on board immediately and remember in their lives, without distracting them with ‘mind’ level details which although entertaining are usually forgotten. Unfortunately I took it a bit far! It is still important to communicate with people upon all levels. Labels and descriptions help people from varied backgrounds and stages in life to ‘see the scene’.

My second intent was to connect to the audience. I did this visually and with even eye contact however my language and examples weren’t powerful.

 

Overall I was happy with the speech.

Honestly, if you are looking to speak yourself, the best thing you can do is get up on stage.

The feedback was clear – it fell short at the end and lacked detailed examples. A few people were inspired to share very amazing feedback and said that I really held my space. This was good as I feel it is essential for an influential speech.

 

 

CC5: What’s your middle Path?

 

Alright…. So if you listened to that speech you’ll probably notice that I didn’t practice it once. Some in the audience didn’t appear to notice but I’m sure that many did!

It wasn’t that I didn’t dedicate time to the speech; I spent time on the weekend before thinking about the topic and title and had the entire afternoon free beforehand for preparation and practice of the speech.

It was that I didn’t want to plan it.

I didn’t want to practice it, memorise it and then run on automatic on stage. I wanted to ‘be in it’ during the speech having only had my life experience and the channeling of wisdom leading up to the speech.

I now realise that I wasn’t at Toastmasters to learn how to speak – I can already do that. I wasn’t at toastmasters to learn how to use body language and gestures – they are already innate within, especially when we are present and authentic in the moment. I didn’t want to learn how to fake it and put up a show and a mask on stage.

 

I joined Toastmasters for the opportunity of experiencing the process of performing a speech; the lead up, planning, ideas generation, collation of overall and current life events, sitting there in the audience waiting to be called up, and then speaking on stage and feeling ok with who I am and what I offer to the world completely regardless of the outcome and audience enjoyment and understanding of the speech.

That is why I joined. And that is why I didn’t properly plan and practice. It was purely about me and how I felt about myself regardless of how the speech comes together. For the rest of my life I can be comfortable with speeches that ‘fail’ and ‘don’t go well’. That is just as valuable as being able to speak and go through the technical aspects on stage.

 

My primary aim is not to entertain or persuade. My aim is not to distract the mind with games of waving the hands, posturing and gesticulating and drawing in automatic subconscious agreement before the free will has a chance to stop and ask, ‘Wait… what did he say? Is that true? Do I value that too?”

My aim is to activate people to their greater capacities. To step into more of who they are, stop living life in a little world of perceived separation and live life as they’ve always dreamed and have known is completely possible (and just need a few simple tools and hints and the knowing of someone that has walked the path before them).

 

The speech itself was short, had almost no detail and unfortunately had very little impact in the end whereas I envisioned it being quite powerful, uplifting and inspiring the audience to make immediate change and cut out the time wasting and procrastination in theirs lives so they live exactly as they’d like and have always known they could and ‘should’.

 

 

At this point I have no plan to return to Toastmasters. I may in the future but currently am out about 6 nights a week with clients, attending various events, networking, socialization and Tribe ‘bonanzas’ (large planning meetings).

I want to go out less for a while and draw people to come to me. To refine what I do in my business so that I can share it with others, get more on board and develop my workshops so that I can have people listening and learning from me for four days straight rather than a 5-7 minute speech on a random topic with a relatively mixed audience that didn’t specifically come with the intention of learning from me and my experiences.

 

The feedback from the Evaluator, Robin as well as many very friendly toastmasters sad to see me go and wanting to know what on Earth I’d been up to over the past few months (there were some long stories afterwards!!) was very helpful and inspiring. He also took me aside afterward to provide extra advice and I am very thankful for that!

 

The feedback was essentially that I had an air of confidence on stage, but could boost it further. My opening of walking around stage (which obviously does not show up on the recording) really grabbed peoples attention and drew them into my frame as they wondered what I was doing and where it might lead. My smile is cheeky and a little bit sneaky because it shows a lot of extra knowing and juicy details behind it!

He said that I could be a poker play as I don’t give it all away (this was especially the case in this speech, as if I had told the full story of my past 4 months it could have easily gone on for a full weekend!). This was also due to the fact that many of my ‘spiritual’ experiences for which has become the majority of my life are far away from the framework of the world in which most of the audience holds to be true. Literally, just the night before at our new place we had a raw food dinner and spontaneously connected with the astral plane, travelled to various places and even had a ‘visit’ from the spirit of a friend in St Kilda. And after spending two weeks moving in and settling into the new house we energetically anchored the new healing/workshop building as well as the office site. And if I keep writing I could easily fill up ten pages onwards from here!

He also said that I have a gently spoken approach that draws people in to the wisdom behind what I say.

 

It is my belief that if we speak from a ‘neutral space’ and are in alignment with our purpose and what really makes us tick, then the wisdom and learning we share will go in to the listeners psyche without barriers and resistance. This occurs best when we aren’t receiving thoughts, beliefs and emotions projected at us for which we either align and agree with or resist and react to without the space for deeper consideration. The information that they need to learn will prove become self-evident over time in their subsequent experiences of life and can be used as a framework for them to develop their own truth.

A great example of this is the work and words of Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’. He doesn’t provide small details for the mind to satisfy it’s need to ‘work things out’. He talks from, and to, a greater state of being.

 

Finally, at the end of the night, Paul, the residing President acknowledged that I was not continuing in the meantime and expressed that I am always welcome at the club and they hope that I do rejoin in the future. He asked if I had anything to share and I let them all know that this journey with Toastmasters has really opened up a lot. It had nothing to do with what I said or did on stage. It had everything to do with how I felt before, during and after a speech. It had everything to do with the fact that before I started I was really scared to speak in front of an audience and was at that point limiting myself and my potential as a result of this fear. Facing and walking through this fear has allowed me to talk in the public arena without preparation or a projector slide to read off. I have been running workshops and plan to run them around Australia in upcoming years and will potentially do the same around the world in paid and volunteer capacities.

So thank you Toastmasters for the opportunity to step into more of who I am – to stop stuffing around and avoiding life and my potential to create an amazing effect within it. Thank you for teaching more about the power of community and everyday people coming together with a structure and agenda and all leaving much better off and sharing this impact with the world around us. A month after this speech, I spoke in front of more than 100 people at Free Humanity (photo below).

IMG_8545

 

I’ll be back as a guest at Rowville Toastmasters to keep in touch with everyone, to see the speaking contests for ideas and inspiration for me to step up my own game, and potentially again as a member.

For anyone reading this, I strongly advise you to attend a meeting. You can go as a guest for free 3 times. You cannot lose as they are so supportive you’ll be surprised by how you’ll feel by the end of the night. The worst thing that can happen is that a room full of people that have struggled or been scared of speaking in front others will see that there is another one like you. It’s a playground for getting out into the real world where it can be much tougher and the audiences more critical and less forgiving. Soon enough you’ll find yourself graduating to the next level yourself and it is guaranteed to improve your confidence and communication in every area of your life.

Do it, and send me a recording of the speech.

I’d love to hear it, and the world will too!

Share:Share on FacebookEmail this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Print this pageShare on LinkedIn

Did you enjoy this article? What insights did it bring?

comments