I recently joined Toastmasters, an inernational organization designed to help people improve their public-speaking skills. I mention the public speaking part right away because when I told a woman the other day that I had joined Toastmasters, she immediately started talking about an old episode of the TV show 'Frasier' and how Frasier and his brother Niles had joined a wine-tasting club and were vying to become 'toastmaster' of their club and the usual wacky highjinx ensued. So let me say up front that this is not a wine tasting club (I save my wine drinking for when I'm reading IGMS story submssions ;-) )
Okay, get back to the point, Edmund...
There was a point?
Yes, now get on with it.
Okay, so I joined Toastmasters. My role as editor of these two magazines has me in front of more and more people, and it seems to be happeneing more and more often. And while I'm not shy (no one will ever accuse me of that), I do find that it's one thing to be on a panel with other speakers or to speak with small groups, but it's quite another thing to be up in front of larger groups, delivering a prepared speech. That, frankly, is scary stuff. Scary stuff that I am now doing. And Toastmaster is, as I already mentioned, designed to help people be better at it. I gave my first prepared speech a few weeks ago (a four to six minute introduction to me, and I'll confess my hands were pretty clammy by time I was done). It wasn't much fun.
I'm looking forward to today though.
Today I am going to be Table Topics Master, which means I come up with a series of items of questions for people to talk about, and they have no idea what those topics are until I tell them. It's an exercise in thinking - and talking - on your feet, and my theme is 'moral dilemmas.' One of my 'dilemmas' (formed, I'm sure, in all that Polar reading I've been doing) is to designate someone the leader of a expedition to the North Pole that has gone terribly wrong. Half the party is dead from hypothermia and starvation is imminent. The only option for survival? Cannibalism. As leader of what's left of the expedition, what do you do? What do you tell your people?
God, I'm looking forward to this.
I wonder if they'll ever let me be able Topics Master again?
(BTW, what would you do?)