Sharing Our Stage
I recently had the pleasure of hosting Toastmasters District 91’s table topics impromptu speaking contest. One of the privileges of the role is that you get to pick the topic the contestants all have to speak about. In the week running up to it, I pondered what to ask them, what topic I could introduce that would be relevant, interesting and maybe even inspiring…
Why inspiring? Well, having been a leader in Toastmasters as well as other places, I’ve realised that what we say to each other, especially from the stage, can have huge impact, and I guess I’ve learned to see each time I am on stage as an opportunity to share something.
At that moment, I was in the middle of some reading for my doctorate in organisational change. Over the past couple of years, this doctorate had morphed from a focus on how someone could become a strong change practitioner to how we, and the organisations we are part of, can flourish. And the question of diversity and inclusion has been on my mind… I realised I would love to see as much diversity on our stages, in our high profile places, as I see in “real life”. And here was a stage…
So I picked the topic “sharing our stage”, and seven talented speakers talked about all sorts of ideas related to sharing our stages – life as a stage, Toastmasters as a place where stages can be shared, what it means for us to have voice.
While the chief judge was working out who had delivered the winning speech, I had the opportunity to interview the speakers. Normally we ask them questions about them so we can get to know them better, but this time I asked them questions about what it had been like for them to get to this stage, so that it might inform others who would love to imagine themselves on stage, in the high profile places, but couldn’t imagine it, yet. Maybe one of those pieces of advice will inspire someone that they, too, can be on these stages.
And then I did something that I had imagined doing, but went through a “can I really do this?” thing… A “I’ve not seen anyone doing this, what will they think?”… A “yes I can do this, for now, this is my stage, and I want to share it”…
So I got everyone who hadn’t been on a district stage in Toastmasters to come up and experience what it was like to be up there and looking back at an audience that was cheering and waving and believing in them.
We had a blast as I hope the pictures show. Lots of people came up to me afterwards and said how much they enjoyed and valued the contest – a contest that wasn’t just about the competitors, but all of us.
From time to time, people come up to me years after I delivered a speech and recall it to me, and what it meant to them. It’s a strange and exciting phenomenon… And I am wondering now, if, some day in the future, some speech champion or leader or motivational speaker will come up and say something like this… “That day when you shared the stage was the day I really imagined myself stepping up and using my voice”. Maybe I will never know, and that’s OK. From the fluttering of tiny butterfly wings, great winds may blow.
Thank you Warren Sheng, for the photos!