on thinking out loud

I joined a local Toastmasters club in August 2011. Funny thing is, I spent four years weeding every ah and um from most of my conversations, as well as my presentations on natural burial, before I dared join Toastmasters. (I helped found the nation’s third natural burial preserve.)

Well, by now I’ve got natural burial down pat. But as I write in late January 2012, I’ve given exactly two Toastmasters talks and have no clue when I’ll do the next. While honing my writing voice has helped unlock my ability to speak, it hasn’t helped me think on my feet. Even outlines lend too little help. I need a crutch tucked behind the podium: a script, carefully memorized because speaking, like writing, is about spontaneity or the illusion thereof. Memorized because writing, like speaking, is all about the right word in the right place—hundreds of right words in hundreds of right places. Memorized because once I’ve found the right words, I’ve so utterly bonded with them that I go blank and stumbly if I lose even one.

Funny—and I thought this speaking business would be easy once I’d weaned myself of filler words. Thinking of all the natural storytellers and yarn spinners I’ve listened to over the years, not even all good writers, makes me jealous. But so it goes.

From the drop-down menu: the two talks I’ve given so far, following Toastmaster’s Competent Communicators Manual. The first, the icebreaker, is meant to be personal—an introduction of sorts. “About me” on steroids. (The speech on clichés will come later.) The second calls for organizational skills—a serious challenge for slow thinkers like me.

Read on … and if you’d like, tell me what you think.

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