I am learning how to speak better in public, and do away with the "uh..." with which my speech is often well-peppered. I am working on mastering my nerves. It's just talking, for goodness' sake. It's not like you have to become a completely different person just because a few more people are watching.
The nice thing about the written word is that generally one can write slower than one thinks, so one can resolve the "uh" issues before they begin. When you're speaking aloud, how many times do you start a sentence without having any idea where it's going to lead, and all of a sudden find yourself at a dead end? So we say, "Uh..."
Um. So anyway.
I was the "Table Topics Master" for today. Roughly half of the meeting is made of prepared speeches, and the other half is speaking off the cuff, or responding to the Table Topics questions. I handled that part of it today. I wonder if these questions would be good diving boards from which I can plunge into some interesting blog posts. And would any of my esteemed readers like to tackle these questions, too?
This is the text that I brought and "presented" to the club.
One of the things I love about being in a community like this is the breadth of experiences and backgrounds of its members. The ways that we share these experiences is through stories—whether they be literally true or… metaphorically true. As a friend of mine once said, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
So we will be telling stories in today’s Table Topics session. Don’t worry about literal truth, but spin us a good yarn. You might even want to begin your answer with “Once upon a time…”
Because we’re all from many different backgrounds, we all have different stories or myths that are told to us as we grow up. Tell us a story that might be well-known where you grew up, but might not be well-known to someone from outside of your culture.
Think of an object in your home that is special to you. A friend comes over to your house and asks about the object. Tell us what the object is, and tell us the story behind it.
You’re tucking your four-year-old son or daughter into bed, and he or she looks up at you with big eyes and says, “Tell me a story!” You want the kid to go to sleep as soon as possible—in 90 seconds to two minutes!—so you begin… “Once upon a time…”
Suppose you had to explain to a child a complicated thing or process, such as how gravity works, what is an atom, how is electricity made, why does it rain, the theory of relativity. How would you do it? Pick a topic, and explain it. It can be true, or… metaphorically true.
We all know the painting, the Mona Lisa. Tell us a story that explains why she is smiling her mysterious smile.
You are pulled over for speeding. Tell the police officer—and us—the story of the reason that you were speeding. Bonus points if you can explain your way out of getting a ticket!
We’ve all had the experience that we just can’t explain, such as eerie experiences, seeing or hearing something go bump in the night, strange animal behavior, and that sort of thing. Tell us what happened.
We tend to accumulate most of our interesting stories while traveling. Many of the speeches given here have been about trips we have taken. Tell us a story about the most amazing thing that happened to you on your trip to another country. (This can be a real experience, or be creative!)