Two weeks ago I was due to give a scheduled speech at my local Toastmasters club. Despite knowing for several weeks that I was scheduled to speak that night, I wasn’t ready.
Over the last year I have gotten more and more comfortable with speaking. For the first few speeches I gave with Toastmasters, my goal was simply to get it done. Simply standing in front of an audience and speaking without dying was success. Then speaking with some coherence was a success. For my most recent speech, I thought I could wing it. I procrastinated and the days available quickly turned into mere hours. I still lied to myself thinking ‘I can do this’. As soon as I sat to write it I realised I couldn’t do it.
After a bit of deliberation, I knew I had to cancel. I wouldn’t be able to do the speech or myself justice presenting it with what I had. Only two hours before the meeting, I called the General Evaluator and apologised and said I wasn’t able to present but that I would still be at the meeting. I immediately felt relieved. I very much felt that I had made the right decision. When I got to the meeting I apologised to the VP Education who organises the scheduling of speeches in the club. I felt guilty that I was wasting a speaking slot that someone else could have used.
I learned from that experience. I learned that I need to prepare well in advance for a speech. Just because I’ve done a few lately that went well, does not mean that I don’t have to put in any work. I have to put in a lot of work. From experience, I know more of what work needs to be done, but the work still needs to happen. I hope to get this speech written in the coming week. I have my subject (Daniel O’Connell and The Doneraile Conspiracy) now I just need to do my research and go from there. I will be ready next time.
I was reminded that I have a strong tendency towards procrastination. That’s something I need to watch out for. If I think I can get it done in a short time, I will leave it to the very last minute. To be honest, one of my ways around that is to commit to projects and deadlines. That way things have to get done. However, I also learned that it’s okay to bow out now and again. If the work isn’t ready, it isn’t ready.
My goal is not to simply survive anymore or just get it done. My goal is to present a speech to the best of my ability and to learn from the experience to be better again next time. And my goal is to continue on this journey. I have come very far from my starting point and I know my Toastmasters journey will continue for some time.