18 May 2010

Off the Deep End

I spoke yet again at my local chapter of Toastmasters, but I was actually on the schedule this time and not filling in for an absentee speaker. 

Project #5 "Your Body Speaks" has a goal of getting the speaker to incorporate gestures into the presentation. I remembered my mentor's advice from last week about ditching my notes, memorizing the beginning and the ending and just having a feel for the middle parts. I had my topic about scuba diving in mind for quite sometime, but I wasn't sure how to organize it exactly. In fact, that was something my evaluator commented upon. I had "stage 1" through "stage 3," but it would have been more properly organized had I used more stages as "stage 2" was really long and the finale was too short. Good tip. I had only thought of adding those indicators last night around 1 am. (>.<) 

Essentially, I did not have this speech memorized, so the written version is not exactly what I said. I also used a ton of gestures, made the scuba/Darth Vader-esque breathing throughout, and pretended that I was underwater. This is of course more difficult to put into the notes.

Again, I won without voting for myself. This time I thought I would certainly lose as the other speaker was AWESOME. I am 5 for 5 on the wins! Not bad.

Here is the speech, comments to follow:

Off the Deep End

(Sound of Darth Vader like breathing) There I was, on a tiny swaying boat off the coast of Bali, Indonesia. I was in full scuba regalia—immense fins made it impossible to maneuver forward out of water, the mask was clear as I had just cleaned it with my own spit and sea water, the wet suit clung to me perfectly, while the air tanks were heavy, my weight belt coming in at around 13 pounds, my BCD vest slightly inflated and pressing against my chest, and, of course my regulator. Was I really going to literally going off the deep end? Did I really need to find Nemo?

Stage 1 fear. I seemed ready to confront it. My instructor did all of my checks. For example, my air was on, my BCD could inflate, I knew the hand signals.  But, I suddenly found myself embarking on confronting one of my greatest fears—drowning. Now, the thing is not that I’m actually afraid to be UNDER water, but rather I hate holding my breath, swallowing water, and having water in my eyes. In scuba diving, these things don’t really happen all that often. You NEVER should hold your breath. It’s dangerous. Generally, you don’t swallow water as you are breathing through your mouth. And, in order to get your PADI Open Water license, you are taught how to deal with water in your mask. In the pool, we practiced having our masks partially flooded, fully flooded, and then taking your mask off, putting it back on, and then clearing the water. Essentially, I was more-or-less golden. Well, except waves makes me a bit nervous too because I’m not a great swimmer. Sigh.

But, there I was. There were two other students, a couple from Minnesota. Both, I should mention, out swam me in the pool. But my Norwegian instructor thought I should dive in first. Did I seem more fearless than the other two people? I certainly didn’t think so. My stomach was already queasy from being in the boat and being anxious. My heart was galloping at full speed.

But, there I was. I was trying not to use up all of my air above water. I was poised to go, on the ledge of the boat. I was to do a back roll into the great unknown. (Showing audience how to keep mask and regulator in tact as I pretend to roll into the water.)

Stage 2, confronting my fear. The air tank pulled me backwards. I was actually in the water!!!! The bubbles were rising to the surface, I was breathing, I could see so clearly. And, as is standard, I returned to the surface of the water and signaled that I was okay. My classmates and instructor slowly descended into the ocean. I let air out of my BCD as to sink down to the benthos. My eyes at the surface, now underneath, sinking so gently down, down, down. All I could hear was my own, rapid breathing and the water around me. I maintained eye contact with my buddy, the instructor, and followed his lead.

We went 11 meters under to do part of the scuba training, flooding and taking off your mask as to prove that you can clear the water out effectively. Upon completing that task, we swam on. We were able to see clown fish (hey, I found Nemo!!!), sea slugs, brain coral, spotted sweetlips, and a wrase. It was amazing to be underwater—I felt like Superman flying underwater, except I had trouble controlling my buoyancy and sometimes would start floating away to the surface.

The 30 minutes swiftly went by. It seemed sudden when my instructor indicated we needed to ascend, with a 5 minute safety stop. When we bouncing on top of the water, we each had to climb into the boat. Handing each fin over and the weight belt to the boat men. Being back on the bouncy boat, I made it to step 3, amazement and empowerment. I did it!!! I went off the deep end and managed to survive.


  • "Nice speech. Reminded me of my PADI class years ago. You seem relaxed and confident."
  • "Very visual, felt like I could feel & see the experience you were in."
  • "Excellent job. Great efforts--organization good. You really captured your audience's attention."
  • "Great job. You made it very realistic. I felt like I was right there with you."
  • "Great gestures! Anyone that has been scuba diving or taken a class could relate well. Good job describing the events including what you saw. Watch 'Oh God.'"
  • "Great job removing the lectern & no notes! I enjoyed your speech & could see the view underwater. Great speech!"
  • "Well don. No notes! Your comfort level is much improved! Loved your speech. Very informative. Much entertaining involved."
  • "Excellent job. Great vocal variety, expressions & actions. I felt as though I was there with you--excellent. To conquer your fear & go for the plunge. You are improving every time."
  • "Excellent job! Your gestures were fantastic which made me feel like I was right there with you. And no notes! I love the fact that you stepped out from behind the lectern." 
Ahh...shucks!!! (*^.^*) 

I just need to keep focusing on content and organization, plus I was a bit nervous about keeping within the time limits. 


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