I posted last week about my decision to join my local Toastmaster Club to work on my speaking skills (or lack thereof) and to become more confident in front of a crowd.
Two weeks ago, I spoke for the first time during something called Table Topics. Table Topics is basically spontaneous speaking, something I suck at. There’s some kind of disconnect between my brain and my mouth. While my mouth is trying to figure out what the heck my brain is thinking, my brain is running in circles and doing loop-de-loops. The result is a disaster of incoherent rambling.
A person is chosen to come up with Table Topics for a meeting. The first time I went, the Table Topics were on the movie Grease, and the Table Topic Master (I think that’s what the position is called?) asked each member something different about the movie, like “There are a lot of nicknames in the movie. Why were you given the nickname, Fish Face.” Loosely related to the theme, but a completely random, untrue question that you can’t possibly plan for in advance. At last week’s meeting, though, the Topic Master put a captioned picture on the projector.
I wish I’d gotten the picture of the woman pulling her hair out in anguish or of the man taking a knife to his lap top – I was that woman earlier in the day when I encountered a major plot hole in my book. And I doubt anyone can name a writer who hasn’t once wanted to commit violence against their computer. I could have come up with decent explanations for both pictures, but nope. My picture was of three siblings. I had to explain what was going on when the picture was taken.
Audience: *polite stares*
Audience: *polite stares*
Me: …. Uh, I’m trying to figure out where the third sibling came from, because I only have an older brother. Oh, yeah. That’s what happened. I’m gullible. My brother has just convinced me that the third kid is our new sibling and… uh… uh… uh… Yeah. *looks at Topic Master to see if I can flee yet*
Audience: *polite smiles*
Topic Master: *whispers* Use the word of the day.
Topic Master: *whispers* Word of the day.
Me: My brother finagled me into believing we had another sibling. *flees lectern*
So, yeah, lots of awkward silence. *sigh*
At least they know I’m not lying when I say I suck at public speaking.*
Actually, I don’t think it’s public speaking so much as spontaneous speaking. I had no trouble speaking to teachers when I needed to, teaching 10 or more at a time new programs and tech that we were using, or library policies, or explaining other things. It’s the spontaneous speaking, the skill I need the most when I’m on panels or doing a Q&A, that I struggle the most with.