The fourth Toastmasters speech I ever wrote for Toastmasters had a pithy little title: “Chinese Takeout.” I wrote it as part of my journey through the required projects designed to methodically improve communication skills. While I was giving the speech, there were a couple of chuckles, and one member suggested that I should enter it into the annual Humorous Speech Contest. I delivered it exactly as I had written it for the club contest. I successfully progressed in the competition through the next couple of levels. I was lucky to progress to these levels, because the top two competitors moved on, and I was consistently finishing second. I was new to the process and just happy to keep succeeding. I remember saying to myself that I could never beat the winning speech. What I really meant was that I was too close to the event and too inexperienced to understand the fluidity of the process.
Two years later, I remembered the speech and thought I would take another look. I reread it and again found myself chuckling at a couple of parts. I did have mixed emotions, though. I was simultaneously upset and excited. I was upset because I saw far too many places in the original speech that needed to be revamped and improved, and I was excited because I realized that it was an early speech, from a time when I was less experienced. Even though there was so much to change, the baseline story was solid.
If you’ve ever had writer’s block, go back to something you’ve already done and you’ll find that you can, and should, freshen up your own work. There is no need to invent something brand new every time you set out to speak.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood
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