Monday, August 13, 2007

My Toastmasters Debut

Today I went to a Toastmasters meeting. One of the better speakers I know, the always inspiring Anitra Freeman, was a member for years. She suggested once that our homeless speakers bureau should open our own Toastmasters chapter. "That's the problem when you middle-class people become homeless," I said. "You always want to bring your damn culture with you."

People say I'm a good speaker. I've had my moments I suppose. But I'd like to be a really good speaker. The sort of speaker who knows how to bring audiences up and down at will until they finally throw money to make me stop. I don't know that this is the way to get there, but it's a start.

I met someone last week who told me that Toastmasters isn't the hopelessly square sort of activity I think it is. I'm unconvinced, but I went anyway. It'll do until I find something better.

So today, at my first meeting, I stepped up to the table talk challenge and delivered a one-minute and twenty-second improvised speech on the topic of what a friend should make or avoid in a birthday lunch for yours truly.
Thank you madame table talk captain, fellow toastmasters, and honored guests. Today I am honored to hold forth before you on a topic that is very dear to me. We are speaking of lunch. Were you to make me a very special sort of lunch, you would of necessity gravitate toward the um, fried food group. This would include the potato, and um, the Snickers Bar, and what else? Oh yes. Cheese. One would want to avoid any foods on the, waddyacallit, the, um, vegetarian end of the spectrum. These would include anything, um, green, and um, anything that would possibly decompose in a worm bin. Thank you for this opportunity to speak, and I'm delighted to be here today.
Sort of Kennedyesque, I thought, but it didn't exactly win any awards. I think that next time I'll deliver my speech in a bad French accent, just to mix things up a bit.

This has actually been coming on for awhile.

The picture up top is one that Rachael took with her cel phone last January when an arts group did a dance installation at Westlake Center. People were invited to get up and soapbox to a small crowd while interpretive dancers did their thing as a backdrop. I find it astonishing that anyone could resist this opportunity, but most did.

If I had any guts, I'd say screw Toastmasters and just do the soapbox thing down at the Market on Mondays instead. Now that's public speaking.


Stephany said...

OH my God you would think I would have known about that soapbox, are you serious. Good thing I havent known about it. I would be arrested for being a topic-hog.

Anonymous said...

I was amused when I visited Boston Commons that people would bring soap boxes and then enlighten the rest of us. I liked the fact that people took participatory democracy so literally. Would you please bring your soapbox back? Will you be there next monday? Of course I will expect you to be coherent.

Anitra said...

So, are you going to start the Proletarian Toastmasters now, Tim? :D

Anonymous said...

Gracias intiresnuyu iformatsiyu