Banquet Speaker

This story started in October of 2004, when I took third place in the toastmasters District Humorous Speech Contest. My friends still say I should have won first place, and I would say theyre just biased, but every time Im in a group of toastmasters from other clubs, I hear, I remember you. You did the speech about the chickens. Actually, the speech was about the hen Hike, the name our group of women who hike together each October decided on during our first hike in Vermont. Over the years, we had hilarious experiences as well as touching moments. It occurred to me that sharing the stories from our hen Hikes could turn into a great speech. Apparently it did.

The speech was to be no longer than 7 minutes, but I had about 15 minutes worth of

material. I had to cut whole paragraphs here and there, but luckily, I saved the trimmings, just in case Id need them someday.

Last week, I was asked to be the banquet speaker for the national conference and convention of the American Council of the Blind on July 11. I had to send in what my speech would be about and the title, within about 48 hours. Obviously, because of the immediate deadline, I had not been their first choice, and they were getting desperate, but I didnt care. I was thrilled to be asked. Ive been a member of ACB for about 25 years, and for 5 years, I was the executive director of the Ohio affiliate. Although this will not be a paying gig, Im excited and eager to perform for my ACB friends. It took me about 5 minutes to decide on my topic. Id do the Hen Hike speech, complete with all the parts I had had to cut. This is the kick in the pants Ive needed to put together an after dinner entertaining speech.

Last night, I sat down with the speech and rearranged paragraphs and put back in the parts that wouldnt fit before. Its going to be fun. Right now, its work, because I have to revise and memorize a speech I wrote 9 years ago, but I recently gave a winning speech on pursuing your passion and finding a way to make it happen. I Urged my audience to visualize their success in attaining their goals, and I was so inspiring that I inspired myself to pursue my own passion of public speaking. And now heres my golden opportunity. It fell into my lap. I could have brushed it off, claiming too much stuff going on in my life, training with a new guide dog, dealing with an elderly mother in assisted living, recovering from back surgery, etc. But I embrace the opportunity to stretch, to grow, to grab that mike,, and give it a go.


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