Stressful: Highs and Lows in August ’12

I’ve mentioned my life-long practice of journaling many times and created one of my own. I came across life coach Rosetta’s post (on The Happy Black Woman blog) about how she does her monthly reviews. I decided that before the first week of September was over, I would reflect on my life in August and write a post about it.

How would I describe my life in August 2012 in one word? Stressful. (I wrote a full entry in my journal that mentions a lot more stressful things than I’m willing to write in this post, but trust me, I’m happy to see September.)

Moving on Up and Going Out

I moved into a new home and took a mini-vacation.

Technically the moving part was in July, but as of August 1, I had been in the house for 3 days so I’m counting it here. As with any move, it takes time to get settled, get repairs and utilities in working order, and establish routines from the new location.  I spent a weekend Savannah, GA perusing the tourist area around historic River St. and visited Tybee Island, Paula Deen’s restaurant Lady & Sons, and the highlight was a last-minute idea to her brother’s restaurant, Uncle Bubba’s. I will be back!

I Lightened Up

I performed in a local improv comedy show for the first time. Why improv?
Professional speakers Steve Berkun (author of Confessions of a Public Speaker) and Darren LaCroix have touted using improvisational techniques as a way to incorporate spontaneity and flexibility while doing public speaking. As a youth speaker, I have to not only educate and give information in a somewhat entertaining manner, but I don’t think of myself as being terribly humorous. The improv class proved to be a fun way to loosen up, trust myself onstage, and gain more self-confidence in extemporaneous speaking situations.

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Seize the Day!

Yesterday I attended a wonderful event called “Seize the Day,” in which 11 speakers discussed business, motivation and personal empowermentover 8 hours. The presenters in order of appearance were Les Brown, Tom Hopkins, Sarah Palin, Bill O’Reilly, Phil Town, Ben Stein, Laura Bush, Than Merrill, John Smoltz, John Maxwell, and Terry Bradshaw. This post is not a full recap, but I will mention some highlights.

As a Toastmaster and aspiring professional speaker, I arrived eagerly anticipating the speeches from Les Brown and John Maxwell. However, I took notes on all* the presenters–not just what they said, but what they did. Some of these nuances are things I would have changed, and some are things I’d like to emulate in my own future presentations. Therefore, in this post, I’ll give you a list of quotables and speaker evaluations.

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Obama: The Essential Collection

Who can deny the oratorical skill and audience engagement that is showcased during a speech given by Barack Obama?

The Essential Obama: The Finest Speeches of Barack Obama is a collection of just that. Editor Tim Davidson includes nothing but the texts of Senator/President Obama’s best speeches from 2002 to 2009 . It includes 19 speeches from different locations along the campaign trail, and includes noteworthy topics such as the speech against the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Keynote Address at 2004 Democratic National Convention, his announcement of candidacy for President, remarks at the Iowa Caucus, the speech on Race, the speech in Berlin,  his Election Night Victory speech, his  Inaugural Address, and his speech about the New Beginning with the Islamic World.

Although the Table of Contest lists each speech topic, geographic location, and date, the book is not divided into chapters. Each speech runs into the next without a blank page to separate them. A heading is the only indicator that you’re reading a different speech.

Because Davidson does not add any commentary on any of the speech’s contents, I will not add any either.  The Essential Obama is a no-frills book with straight text. But if you want to have some of President Obama’s best speeches all in once place, this book is good start.

If you want to learn more about Obama’s style of speaking, check out Five Way to Speak Like Obama and How to Deliver an Obama-like Presentation. And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t advocate Toastmasters, which has clubs worldwide, to get in your practice of public speaking.

Toastmasters Eastern VA Division Contest

“Thou shalt not conclude a speech with ‘Thank you’ ”

“When homeless people stop their ranting to look at YOU, then you know you’re crazy.”

“Whichever football team is not having such a great season can always take comfort in playing against The Redskins.”

No folks, it’s not stand-up comedy. It’s not Shakespeare. It’s not Broadway either. These quips came from performances at the Wells Theatre in Norfolk on the morning of November 7, 2009.

That was the day that the Toastmasters of Virginia’s Eastern Division took over.

Toastmasters periodically holds speech contests as an interesting component to their educational program. The contest creates community awareness of the Toastmasters program, and gives all who attend the opportunity to learn by observing other speak­ers.

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Hello and Farewell to the Final Toastmasters International Region 8 Conference

I had the opportunity and pleasure of attending my first regional conference for Toastmasters this past weekend (June 26 and 27, 2009). Here are my reflections (a rundown that is long but not exhaustive).

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