To know it for the first time…

TS Elliot would have us believe that the goal of journeying is to arrive at the place from which we started, and to know it for the first time. Tonight, I delivered the first speech in the Toastmasters Competent Communicator series at CAT. It is a manual that I have never before completed – when I completed my previous Ice Breaker in early 1997, it was known as the Competent Toastmaster manual. And it was a challenging experience.

Challenging because in front of a small and distinguished audience of experienced speakers, I was to present a self introduction. A self-introduction that was to be engaging and interesting – despite many of the audience already knowing me very well. A self-introduction that was to be thought provoking and stimulating – despite the erudition and extreme intelligence of my listeners. And a self-introduction that was to be judged not as it was back in 1997 – when provided that I spoke at all, I would be congratulated and encouraged – but rather judged as a DTM and champion speaker.

Yet we are all making that first speech.

Every night, at every meeting, we each stand up to speak that first word.

And every time we speak, we all face those same challenges as we did that very first time.

Sometimes the butterflies are flying in formation. Sometimes the fear is transmuted into exhilaration. But sometimes we can mess it up.

I spoke on my personal passion, genius training. My brother spoke very well on a very similar topic just a few weeks before – he’s writing a book on the topic even! But as this was my Ice Breaker, I also needed to introduce myself.

Previously, I have talked about how you are naked as a speaker. How when you take the stage, you take the responsibility to honour the trust that each member of the audience has placed in you by giving you their attention and time… and how when you do, you are exposed there. If your clothes don’t look right or your voice doesn’t sound right or your hair doesn’t sit right – it’s there for all to see, hear and feel.

And you can either embrace that spotlight of attention or wish it away.

But the credit always belongs to those who are in the arena