Updated: Jan 10, 2022
I had been nervous about my first speech, so I gave myself the best chance of success by planning well in advance, giving me time to practice in front of my husband beforehand. I also went through it a couple of times alone, to check on the timing. This definitely helped.
My mind hit a blank when thinking about my ‘icebreaker’ speech with Toastmasters. I thought it would be easy to talk about ‘me’ – but apparently not! I eventually decided to share the things in life that are most important to me which I hoped would sum me up, whilst, perhaps, inspiring others. It was summed up with this title:
The 3 L’s … read on if you are curious!
I wanted to open by grabbing everyone’s attention, so I told them the story of how I played ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ when I was forty years old. But with a dramatic difference! Instead of a donkey being pinned to wall, I used a map of the UK and wherever the pin landed - was going to be my new home. (I lived in Surrey at the time). I used the space around me to mimic the actions as I spoke.
“I spun around with a blindfold on, and, if you think of the UK as an outline of a donkey, it did land on its bottom! How lucky it did, otherwise I wouldn’t be here now with my wonderful husband and the joys of the north Norfolk coast and countryside. I wouldn’t be presenting this speech to you all now!”
I then continued my talk based on the 3 L’s and it went like this…
Number 1 - L is for Living
So, living… we are all doing it aren’t we? Most of us since the day we were born!
But are we really? Just because we are all breathing, I don’t believe it signifies we are really living. There is a difference between living and existing.
If you feel stuck on the hamster wheel of life, with no choices, then the chances are you are ‘existing’.
To change this, you need to take control of your destiny, just in the way I did when I played pin the tail on the map, and it landed on Norfolk. If you step outside of your comfort zone (I gave a little bunny hop here!) and shake off the shackles of fear, then you will find your purpose and your passion. This is when you will feel like you are truly living!
Number 2 – L is for Loving
I’m not talking about your romantic, lustful kind of love… but the love which should come first: self-love. This is not ‘selfish’ as some people claim. It’s not narcissistic but necessary. It’s not all about selfies and self-obsession but rather self-esteem. The relationship we have with ourselves sets the tone for every other relationship we will have in our life. Unless we find acceptance and love for ourselves, we cannot give the best to others. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
With a little self-evaluation and self-care, you will discover the real you, and learn to love who you are. This way, everybody and everything benefits. You will give so much more to the world, and you will love with a full heart. The wonderful gift this brings, is that the love is reflected to embrace you too!
(I couldn’t end ‘loving’ without mentioning my wonderful hubby, and I sneaked in a bonus ‘L’ which was L is for laughter, which we do morning, noon, and night.)
Number 3 – L is for Learning
We learn from the day we are born, but I’d like to talk about the joy of learning something new, a skill, or hobby perhaps. When I was at school, I was very resistant to learning; I hated sciences, loathed maths and didn’t achieve many qualifications.
However, in my 30s, I studied psychology A-Level and loved it! I then took my maths GCSE when I was aged 47 (to accompany my daughter). Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Why is this important? Because it highlights how we are more receptive to learning in later life. In fact, I believe it is necessary, because it keeps the grey matter ticking over and helps to keep us young.
My recent learning is all things to do with writing (and speaking!) and I challenge everyone to try and learn at least one new thing a year. Perhaps a new sport, or an evening class to learn a language, dancing to audition for strictly! (I made good use of my walking stick as a prop here, using it as a snooker cue and golf club for sport, and even a Majorette’s baton!)
I ended my talk by saying: I have chosen ‘learn’ as my third L, because it encompasses all the others. Sometimes we need to learn how to live. We need to learn how to love, and, perhaps, even learn how to learn!
I rounded everything up with 3 quotes to close my speech.
Living – To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. Oscar Wilde
Loving – How you love yourself, is how you teach others to love you.
Learning - The day you stop learning, is the day you start dying – Albert Einstein
The feedback I received after my speech was great. Toastmasters are always so supportive and positive, whilst gently giving any tips for improvement.
Driving home that evening, I had a huge smile on my face. I felt incredibly proud of myself, and my confidence rocketed. I’m a firm believer that we should do things outside our comfort zone to grow, expand, and feel ‘alive’. My icebreaker was definitely outside my comfort zone and the reward was tremendous.
I have learnt a great deal from the experience and now look forward with eagerness to my next speech.
Thank you Toastmasters, Nikki Rodwell.