There’s a wonderful article in today’s National Post about a 33-year-old rancher from Alberta who led one of the last great calvary charges at the Battle of Cambria in WW I.
After assuming command of the Fort Garry Horse upon the death of the troop’s captain Lieutenant Harcus Strachan led his mounted B Squadron, swords drawn, toward a German artillery post.
Successful in their endeavour, their bravery left them “utterly alone” kilometres behind enemy lines with only 50 men out of an original complement of 133 fit to fight. Strachan found not a horse left unwounded so he gathered his men and said:
“Everything is in our favour!”
Returning with his men on foot to friendly territory Strachan would be later be awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery. In the months to follow a new weapon of war, the armoured tank, would replace the calvary of previous wars and warfare would be changed forever.
So what does an archaic wild calvary charge, one of the last of World War I, have to do with giving a speech in Toastmasters?
Ask yourself this:
When you’ve completed your speech what are the first thoughts that go through your head? What do you tell yourself? Are you optimistic and excited?
Do you say something like that was great – I did it – I learned so much?
Or do you do, as so many do, immediately start to pick apart your speech searching for every little flaw? Do you say to yourself that your speech was a failure? Do you agonize over every little slip?
This hyper-critical thinking is epidemic in society today. It sniffles creativity and makes giving a speech an experience to be dreaded.
This is not the way Toastmasters works.
After you give your next speech tell yourself that you did a great job. If you’re not up to giving yourself praise then go find your mentor and let them do it for you.
Remember all the little things you think went wrong likely weren’t even noticed by your audience. The stuff you think needs fixing will fix itself over time as you continue speaking. There’s no need to be harsh with yourself.
Everything is not lost.
Remember the Alberta rancher who went faced with insurmountable odds turned to his men and reassured them that all was going to end well….and it did.
Be optimistic. Be unafraid. Keep calm and keep speaking!