I gave a speech last night on the subject of my twins. It was part of a Toastmasters humorous speech competition, and I came second (of two speakers). I had put in some effort into getting the speech ready, so coming second was a bit of a slap in the face. Mind you, I don’t blame the guy who won, and neither do I blame the judges. It’s the realisation that I had a false view of my own abilities that grates a little bit. While the subject I chose was both interesting, relevant and quite funny, my delivery didn’t get too many laughs.

After the meeting I pretty much resolved not to enter a humorous speech competition again, only to find that my colleague with the winning speech can’t make the next round, and so I will have to give the same speech again at another, bigger, meeting. Oh the joys….

I have started to read Robert Harris’s “Imperium”. It concerns the life of Cicero, the great Roman orator who lived during the “interesting times” at the end of the Roman Republic. A memorable quote, allegedly from his teacher, was that only three things counted in public speaking: delivery, delivery and delivery. This is quite a challenging observation, because delivery is by far the toughest part of public speaking. It requires practice, control of nerves, attention to detail and control of hand and body movements.

I think I learned a lesson last night. I don’t want to let myself down in the next speech, so I probably need to practice some more and do what I can to make the funny bits funnier. Easier said than done, I think.