Practice makes perfect

I'm spending tonight practicing my first official speech for the Toastmaster's Club at my work. I joined because I realize that I need more practice doing public speaking. Plus, it's a more social event than sitting in my cube hunched over a laptop and tethered to a conference line all day.

This will not be the first time I've done public speaking, but it still makes me nervous. Here's my speech (slightly edited to remove references to my work):

Fellow Toastmasters, I appreciate the opportunity to tell you about myself. As I reflected on how to talk about myself, I started with the most basic question: who is Linda? And I realized that there is no one, single answer to that question.

Who am I?

Well, I’m a Local. I was born in Chicago’s south suburbs, and now live on the northwest side of Chicago. I have lived in and around Chicago for nearly my whole life. I say “nearly,” because I spent about 2 years living in Toronto, Canada in my early college years. Basically, I ended up in Toronto because I like to travel and explore other places.

I’m a Traveler. I learned to enjoy traveling when I was a child and our family took to the road for vacations. In my youth, I traveled through most of the Central and Southeastern states on our way to places like Disney World, the Florida Keys, and even a day excursion into Mexico from a Texas border town.

As a young adult, I got my passport and headed off to Canada, Caribbean islands, Europe, Southern Africa, and Central America. I’ve bunked in a hockey rink in Copenhagen, ridden horseback through the rain forest in Costa Rica, and eaten fried caterpillars in Zambia.

Since I joined XXX nearly 9 years ago, I’ve done a bit of business travel throughout the U.S. – perhaps not as much as most of you – and made one trip to the Hyderabad office in India.

I’m a professional. I’ve earned two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Masters degree. My undergraduate major was Anthropology, and while I did participate in an archaeology dig one summer, I decided that there wasn’t a very practical career to be had in Anthropology. When I went back to school to work on my Masters degree about 6 years later, I decided to study Library and Information Science. I like figuring out how to organize information and make it accessible so people can get the best benefit from it, so working here at XXX in Knowledge Management has been a good fit for me.

I’m a wife. In October my husband and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I’m thankful I’ve had a supportive and loving partner for so many years.

Those of you who have been at earlier meetings may know that I’m a pet owner. I have 2 dogs and 1 cat. All are adopted  “mutts," and all of them are female. I sometimes tease my husband that he’s totally outnumbered. Next week, I expect to add to our household menagerie when the 3 chickens I’ve ordered come home to roost. And of course they’re all females, too!

Squeezed into the small pockets of spare time I have, I’m a hobbyist. I like to make things with my hands and build self-sufficiency skills. My hobbies include cooking, knitting, gardening, and reading about all of these areas and more. My house is full of books: cookbooks, gardening books, knitting books, and lots of fiction.

A few years ago, I participated in the Master Gardeners program through the University of Illinois Extension, where I learned a lot about growing vegetables, fruit, and ornamental plants. In the past year, I’ve been busy converting part of our yard into beds to grow annual vegetables and fruits like peppers, tomatoes, and garlic, as well as perennial ones like asparagus and blueberries.

I’m an environmentalist. So I guess it’s predictable that all of the gardening I do is organic. I have 3 compost bins outside, and a “worm bin” for vermicomposting in the basement. Compost alone keeps my garden lush and productive. Oh, and the chickens aren’t just going to be pets and egg-layers, but compost-producers as well!

Finally, I’m a friend. I still have friends from high school and college that I keep in touch with, as well as ones that I’ve made through pursuing my hobbies and my profession. I’m always ready to make new friends. So when you see me at the Toastmasters meeting or in the elevator, I’d be happy to strike up a conversation and get to know you better.

Thank You!

So, is this lame or good? Guess I'll find out tomorrow when I deliver it in person!

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