BETWEEN THE PAGES: FINDING MY VOICE – Growth through Speeches

Welcome to the limited series return of BETWEEN THE PAGES, running Mondays and Wednesdays now through mid-December 2020! Dubbed BETWEEN THE PAGES: FINDING MY VOICE, follow Shannon’s journey as she learned and grew to become more of a public speaker, and how she’s still learning today! Today is Installment 26,  “Growth Through Speeches”.

I didn’t know when I joined that they had a structure at Toastmasters for speeches. It’s called PATHWAYS, and consists of 11 paths with 5 levels. Honestly, I guess part of me thought that I’d get to practice the types of speeches I’d want to do and get feedback on how to do those better. PATHWAYS provides guidance of a list of expected speeches, though most have a lot of latitude within those, and several levels include electives.

The first speech of any path is the Ice Breaker, to let the club know a little more about you. This would actually be difficult for me to do, and we creatively had to work it into the end of the year Holiday Party, where normally only the Connect with Storytelling Speech is done if any PATHWAYS speech is done (I just had to incorporate information about my favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien, which wasn’t hard).

Once I got past that, I embraced the requirements portion of PATHWAYS by initially sticking to the two major topics introduced in my Ice Breaker, my family and J.R.R. Tolkien. I think maybe because it felt like a safe place to be. I only broke out of this groove once with my speech on time management – a required topic – in May of 2020, where I spoke about time management balance during the pandemic.

In September of 2020, I did another speech on my leadership attributes, again a required speech. After that, they returned to the personal touch with more stories of my life. This seems to cement my desire to be a storyteller and a speechwriter both.

Speaking of the pandemic, you’ll notice I mentioned it above. We weren’t meeting in person. So how did we make it work? Find out in the next installment!