A tail of Toastmasters in Three thrilling fails

I have slowly been churning through my Persuasive Influencer program with Loudoun Toastmasters. As a toastmaster, I feel I have improved my organization and ability to speak while crafting an engaging yarn. That said, we can all learn from our foibles and in this case my last three speeches did indeed have their kinks and chances to grow from.

Electric Car Advocacy — 2023-10-05

I gave this speech as a companion to my livestream with Fairfax County, on Car Tax Payment Day, which you can watch here. I gave this speech only minutes after the presentation and as an advocacy speech to towards my Level 3 proficiency. The problem was, even though I was home and at my own computer, I didn’t have time to set up the presentation correctly and had to rush through some slides because I ran out of my 5–7 allotted time. What’s more, I didn’t set the zoom share properly so my Presentation was showing presenter view to the audience, not the presentation itself.

What I learned was that I needed to take more time to prepare my materials and make sure they were ready and that I wasn’t so hasty to set up my display. Needless to say, this was a pretty poorly performing speech that day.

Film the Eclipse with an iPhone — 2024-03-24

I first gave this at the Westminster Astronomical Society March meeting, on Wednesday, 13 March. That speech went great because I brought my own computer and it played the videos over zoom perfectly. I had it on a table in front of the audience and it was projected on the screen as well. It was a smashing success right after the main presentation. I was looking forward to giving the same speech in Toastmasters to finish out my Level 3.

Eleven days later, I addressed my toastmasters with the same speech. However, the embedded videos didn’t play when the zoom host brought up those slides. I was mortified. This time, the slide deck was shared correctly but the video content just wouldn’t play. As such, I failed again, learning that embedded content is hard to manage so keep my presentations simpler. But, what was worst of all was that the timer flashed a card at me, making me thing I was running out of time, so I rushed through to the end only to find out that I was just one second shy of 5 minutes as he flashed the green card at me. I learned then and there to not trust the timer and make sure I kept my own time.

Of course, this was just before my eclipse trip to Austin, so I was also worried about packing and getting ready for that.

The Green Pill Podcast — 2024-05-02

This speech was near and dear to me. When I saw the Create a Podcast project for the Level 4 elective speeches, I knew it was a perfect fit. I had been working on my episodes, with the last of the Spring series and first of the Summer in the can and waiting for release on YouTube, I already had 60 minutes of footage from the first 6 episodes publicly released on the platform, enough to qualify to give the corresponding speech.

Part of the speech requirements is to share a clip of your podcast. I decided rather than taking one of the existing episodes, I’d give a preview of the first Summer episode I’d just finished editing. In summer, I’m hoping to go to a more 2-camera like approach with editing for the episodes. You’ll see what I mean on 20 June, at the Solstice. In any case, I selected a clip from that episode where I reiterate some issues from our upcoming Enthusiastic Consent episode. I sent the video clip to the zoom host and reduced my speech by a minute to allow time for the clip. I also made sure to put my phone on the podium to time myself and make sure I transitioned to the clip with enough time to spare.

Unfortunately, the zoom host didn’t prepare for my clip. He thought he was supposed to play something from the existing YouTube content, but I edited a short, low-sized clip specifically for this episode. I wanted him to play that. It took nearly 2 minutes for him to load up the clip and in the end he never even shared it with Zoom properly. Another failure and poor performance on my part as I shouldn’t trust others to do what needs to be done. I should have brought my own computer and had it play the clip to Zoom.


When it comes to crafting a great speech, you can leave nothing to chance, friends. Watch for your contingencies and leave nothing to chance. Then maybe you can get that best speech ribbon.

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