5 minutes and 33 seconds – the length of my 2nd Toastmasters speech titled S.A.D Your Darkest Cloud
“I liked your creative conclusion and 3 point organization. The organization made it easy to follow and you referenced it frequently”
“>Like the blend between facts and ideas > engaging > at times you didn’t seem too sure of yourself which halted your flow (mostly at beginning) > good hand gestures, eye contact, but your legs were static”
“Good job on giving the background of the 2nd study – slow down a bit when reading the studies and during the rest of the speech. Great ending! – Loved the ‘Life Weights…’ – Great job w/ speaking clearly and in an audible tone”
“The speech was delivered well and i will probably remember a lot of what you talked [about]”
“Great job! Well laid out topics w/ great summary, using personal experience really helped people relate. Good suggestions for how to get out of the depression!”
“Great control of time and speed! i really enjoy you speak. I think you can be even greater if you don’t use notes”
“Very good speech. I love the humor at the end of your conclusion. Very timely as well.”
“Great topic. The bad weather in winter season makes many people feel worse. it is good to avoid this feeling by talk[ing] with others.
“Garth> Fantastic. I actually have seasonal depression & working out and being with others, I have found, is key to ridding negative thoughts & gaining a clear head. You spoke very well & had great energy which made it a pleasure to listen to you.”
“Feels comfortable in front of an audience. I thought the topic was important to the audience. I liked the way you ended with the statistic you mentioned at the beginning”
Thank you to the audience members who read this for their feedback. I greatly appreciate all feedback: The glamored, the guts and the grime. Now it’s time for public speaking tips.
Lessons On Speech Prep and Present
Originally my speech was not 5 minutes and 33 seconds. After I wrote it out and timed it, it was 11 minutes and 49 seconds.
Lesson 1: Time your speech at different intervals as you write it. It will prevent you from writing too much and pressure you to amp up the content and let the fluff fly away.
While I was writing essays growing up, my mom would always tell me to always write extra because it is a lot easier to take out then to put in. While this may be true for essays, it is not for speeches under 7 minutes.
Lesson 2: If you end up with a 4 page speech when it should be no more than 1 1/2 pages, scrap it. Pull your main points out and use them for an outline and reference your 4 page speech when you get stuck. It is best to use it only when you get stuck because when you try to use a lot of your longer prepared speech, you will feel like the points wont be as powerful without all the fluff around them. Trust me. I used 2 days trying to take pieces out of my speech to shorten it when I should have started over after I found out it was nearly 12 minutes long.
Once my speech was set and in between the 5-7 minute restriction I thought I would try a new memorization strategy. I recorded myself giving the speech on my computer and uploaded the file to my iPod. I will tell you now, it is very uncomfortable when you listen to yourself give your speech for the first few times. But then I learned two lessons from it.
Lesson 3: Once you get over laughing at yourself as you listen to yourself giving the speech, you begin to notice the details. You notice when you take a breath, you notice the points of poor vocal variety, you notice the areas in which you really seem passionate and the areas in which you sound boring. By becoming an attuned audience member, you can become the tuned in speaker everyone wants to hear.
While originally this was not my point for recording my speech, this strategy greatly increased my presentation abilities. I won more than half of my audience’s appeal to having listened so intensely to myself speak over and over and over. But the real reason I recorded myself was that I wanted to memorize.
Lesson 4: Increase your memorization speed by listening to yourself give your speech. You will begin to mouth out the words as if it were a song.
Unfortunately, this technique did not work as well as I expected it to for me. However, I would still suggest it because the extra bit of memorization could be vital to your actual presentation. If you have or end up trying this strategy, please share your results! I would love to know if there is a particular way you memorize your speech.
…and then it was speech time.
Lesson 5: Next time you give a speech, ask a few audience members (or if you are in Toastmasters, ask the club members) if they will observe how you handle your struggles. When speakers fail to know every single idea, thought, feeling and movement of their speech they tend to, like me, find a way to push their ideas out or find a way to strive to reach an idea.
During my speech I struggled to remember and connect a few ideas and I used too many hand movements. I felt that if I made the movements as if I were getting an idea across, the idea would follow but it wound up backfiring. Do you know how you handle your struggles?
Lesson 6: Do not focus only on hand and facial gestures.
Audience members respond to whole body movement as well, as you read in my club’s feedback, my legs remained static during this speech. Just a reminder.
The Short Version
As you know, my original speech was almost 12 minutes long. I know that work did not go to waste because I truly enjoyed researching for it, writing it and learning from it. For now, enjoy the speech version rather than the “essay version”.
S.A.D. Your Darkest Cloud
There’s something I hate. Really do hate, and as you know I’m a very optimistic person, so it’s a huge deal that I’m starting with the fact I hate something. Now what I hate is a mood disorder and almost everyone gets it, whether it’s barely noticeable or you end up taking a trip to the doctor. Even with my positive attitude, I get it. I get SAD. Seasonal affective disorder, better known as winter depression or winter blues.
The symptoms can be so disastrous that all the positive energy and self improvement you created and invested in yourself throughout the last year could flash away in less than a week.
You find yourself unhappy with all of your achievements, in fact, you don’t even call them achievements, achievement is a sign you’re going somewhere. But you’re not; at least this is what the emotional disorder will tell you.
Now, can you believe 6.1% of the population suffers from seasonal affective disorder at a degree that they should ask for help? It’s such a small percentage but 6.1% of the US population is nearly 19million people.
All of this research began from the fact that every year, I’m in this 6.1% when the season starts to change to winter. After more than 9 years of trial and error I came up with 3 ways to, not only tackle seasonal depression, but these 3 ways can be used to leverage yourself in your success journey. The three topics I am going to talk about are exercise, the personal link, and the passion experiment.
Now, do you have a coworker or friend that works out every day? I am going to bet that they are the ones with the most energy in the office, the ones that get things done and always have a smile on their face while doing so. I am finding it incredible the correlation that exercise has on our feelings and emotions throughout the day.
Let me share a study with you, researchers compared the effects of 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill with 30 minutes of quiet rest in 40 adults recently diagnosed with depression. None of the participants were taking antidepressants or exercising regularly.
The results showed that both groups reported reductions in feelings like tension, anger, depression, and fatigue. But only the exercise group reported feeling good, as measured by improved scores on “vigor” and “well-being” indicators.
And that is what we really want isn’t it? We don’t want to not feel bad, we want to feel goooood.
Even more so, I found another article where scientists have experimented with rodents and know that running induces the production of new neurons in rodent brains, BUT Elizabeth Gould and colleagues at Princeton University report that this benefit is wiped out when animals are housed individually, a situation she likens to “solitary confinement” for humans.
Which brings me to my next factor of fighting back depression, human connections.
I can go on about the negative consequences to social isolation, but that is not going to motivate you to make personal connections when you are feeling down. What will, is talking about an out of the box benefit. While most read that social connections promote outcomes of better health, longevity, and greater quality of life — I have concluded an even better benefit. Social interaction can spring you forward to your life’s goals.
When talking to others, you have to form all your ideas into sentences to form a complete idea. Why do you think were told to practice our speeches out loud? By talking to people you have to put it in words and simplify it to where it’s understandable and the result is achievable. When you talk with people, every word is a brick to the path of the ideas manifestation.
Furthermore, with this social interaction, you will simply forget about depressive thoughts.
Can you recall the last time you were so focused on something that time just flew by? Maybe you were on a phone with a friend and didn’t realize it had even started to rain outside or a personal example, I was talking to a friend on the bus about my eBook and we both forgot to pull the cord and missed our bus stop. We get involved with talking to others about life, and goals, and achievements that we forget the negativity, the downs, the SAD emotions.
Now the state of connecting with people leads me to my next point, life is like a giant game of connect the dots. You know people; those people know other people or have information that can help you get what you want and live your passion.
And acting on your passion is my last point because the action of going after what you want can decrease your depression symptoms. Why? Because you have a focus. It’s similar to what I mentioned with personal connections, you get so caught acting on your passion that all the emotions and negative circumstances in your life disappear.
To be honest, seasonal depression helped me figure out what I was absolutely most passion about, and just as I have over 250 life goals written down, I have the same number of passions, but having the depression helped me figure out the top thing. Writing. When I sit down and write I forget everything, I forget to eat, I forget to sleep, I have once gone over 6 hours writing without getting up to go to the bathroom. But most importantly, I forgot it was winter, I forgot I was sad, I forgot all the negative situations in my life… they vanished. I want the same for you.
By exercising each day to release the gitty-up chemicals in your brain, by making social interaction a priority, and by making your passion an adventure by exploring and sharing your findings, you can decrease the force of depression, eliminate it permanently, or completely prevent it in the first place.
Before I end this speech, do any of you remember approximately how many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder in the US? (nearly 19mil) Even though this is such a small number compared to the actual number of people in the US, if these people started to exercise, started to seek out connections, and do what they love can you visualize how HUGE of an impact that would make on the world as a whole?
That is almost 19 million people achieving their goals, feeling motivated, having energy, being happy, inspiring others, connecting with each other, exchanging positive attitudes, spreading love. They say a simple smile is contagious, well you mix all the emotions and actions of the above and you have yourself a freaking epidemic!
BUT, the winter season is filled with dark clouds, both literally and mentally speaking with seasonal affective disorder being the darkest cloud. We know that it’s the time that everyone is at the highest risk of depression, so remember when you lift weights, lift ideas with people and lift your passion, you are also lifting your darkest cloud.
Stay Positive and Lifting
Garth E. Beyer