Jan 04

What have you loved, learned and laughed at in 2008?

Happy New Year! So here we are right on the cusp of a new year (it’s the 4th of January 2009 as I write this). I always like to take this time of year for a little bit of reflection. I try not to just plough on into a new year without taking the time to have a little think about the previous year and remind myself what I’ve achieved and what I have yet to achieve.

Personally, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I prefer to…
set goals. I don’t just do them in January, I do them once then review them every six months or so. Then I adjust my journey if I need to.

Here are some of the things I’ve have learned and loved this past year.

Award-winning speeches – no matter how many times you win an award at a contest, be it Toastmasters or elsewhere, you can always find ways to improve your speech. I have learned more about writing and developing speeches after I won the International Speech contest at my club back in March. In fact my learning spiked the highest in December after first attending a workshop with 2008 European Champion Simon Bucknall and then listening to a podcast of 2001 World Champion of Speaking Darren La Croix.

The most important word in public speaking – turns out it’s the word “you”. I figured it was something like frasmotic or pericombobulation. I learned this after attending a public speaking workshop with Simon Bucknall back in March. As a speaker we should be more concerned about our audience than about ourselves. But asking “you-based” questions or making you based statements we are able to connect with our audience more.

Once upon a time… I also attended a storytelling workshop with DTM, Andrew Brammer. I already know a lot about storytelling techniques from reading screenplay writing books such as Story and Writer’s Journey. It was good to have a refresher course and discover the importance of using stories in speeches.

A Faster Toastmaster – By participating in Evaluation contests at Toastmasters I discovered that you can move quite rapidly through the speech projects, IF you put the necessary work in. So much so I wrote a small report about my experiences which can be downloaded here (coming soon).

Never understimate the power of Networking – I was contacted in May 2008 by someone who wanted me to be an M.C. for a charity event over the summer. It turns out that the charity had gotten my contact details from fellow Toastmaster, Jackie Barrie, from my old club in Croydon. I haven’t spoken to Jackie for a while, but you can rest assured I re-connected with her and thanked her via Facebook.

Blowing my own trumpet – at the start of the year I found my blog listed on Andrew Dlugan’s list of, what grew to be, 106 Public Speaking blogs: The Public Speaking blogosphere.Then later in the year it turned out I was “a big deal” over at All Top… who knew?

Speech Evaluations… there are no rules! – After attending an evaluation workshop with two the the U.K.’s best Evaluators I’ve realised that there are no rules! When providing feedback to a speaker some people like to give feedback on the first-person others like to give feedback in the second so that it directly relates to the speaker and those listening. It comes down to personla preference. I might try giving it in the third person next time “Jason recommends…”

Sarah Silverman – whilst she’s a hot comic in every sense, I don’t think she’s really worth what amounted to £1 a minute for the 45-minute show that I, and another 3,499, people bought back in October. That was a lot of disgruntled people to deal with. Or not as the case may be.

Here’s a link to an old blog post about gaining stage time that I tried to live my life by in 2008.

Networking on and offline – another groovy thing that happened thanks to this blog, which turn one years old last July, was the fact that I caught the attention of some fellow London-based Toastmasters, which allowed me to broaden my circle of contacts in the real world. Check out The London Speaker for more info on those peeps.

Satire gets a shot in the arm – thanks to the wonderfully funny Tina Fey. She ridiculed Vice Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live satire seemed to get a boostand became important again. My only concern is that by having Fey on my celebrity “list” it may also mean that I have a secret hankering for Sarah Palin (shudder).

Blogging can be surprising – sometimes you can spend hours on a post and try to squeeze every ounce of value-packed content and provide someuseful information and no-one reads it (look at some of the older posts you’ll know what I mean). You write a silly little post abou some influential comedians and all hell breaks loose! Who’d have thunk it?

Finally, here are some links to some You Tube videos that made me laugh last year:

1) Ninja Cat, 2) Kevin Pollack doing Walken, 3) Ken Lee, 4)Serious baby, 5) My Whole Family

As 2009 gets under way let’s hope I can ratchet things up a bit. What about you? What have you loved and learned this past year? What are the areas that brought you happiness and joy? How can you continue to develop and improve as this year progresses? Have you taken the opportunity to reflect yet? Do you know what you want to accomplish this year?


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  1. Freddie Daniells

    sounds like it was a really good Toastmastering year! heres to more in 2009!

  2. Jason Peck

    hey freddie

    thanks for dropping by. yes, it does seem somewhat top heavy with toastmasters, but i guess the most amount of growth occured – in and around toasties.

    and i can’t include everything that occured.

    yes, hopefully more of the same in 2009!

  3. Melissa

    Well done, all around. This has been a year of exciting revelations and big moves. Wishing you all the best in 2009, which is bound to be your biggest year yet!

  4. Jason Peck

    Hey Melissa,

    Thanks for swinging by… yes, last year was actually quite eventful upon reflection. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of things, it’s easy to feel that nothing’s going on.

    There are always going to be peaks and troughs, times when you’re more busy than others, but on the whole there are often plenty of things going on in all areas of ones life.

    Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in 2009 and then maybe do a comparison in a year’s time.

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