Yesterday evening we had the first Toastmasters’ (TM) meeting this month. There were a few new people; our membership is officially 42 members who paid the $1 monthly dues but only about 30-some showed up. I had volunteered at the last meeting to give my second speech when there weren’t 4 others wiling give one. My first speech, the “icebreaker,” was delivered during our dress rehearsal with just officers. TM speeches can be on any topic you choose but they give you elements to focus on. In preparing the second speech you are supposed to focus on the structure, making sure is has a clear intro., body, and conclusion. I knew the night after I finished my first speech what the topic of my second one would be: Speech Structures. *chuckle*

The next time I went to the library I had the assistant look up any books they might have on public speaking and they had The Art of Public Speaking by Stephen E. Lucas, 2007 Ed. It was a speech class text book and had a chapter that gave what it called the 5 “speech patterns:” Chronological, Spacial, Cause & Effect, Problem/solution, and Topical. So there was my outline. LOL! Our speeches are supposed to have titles so we can be introduced but I didn’t want to give the topic away so my title was “Speech #2.” *grin* I decided I would open my speech acting as if I hadn’t chosen a topic yet, “what should my speech be about?” Then I mentioned it was my second speech so I needed to focus on structure and organization and how lucky it was that just the other day I was in the Library reading The Art of Public Speaking by the estimable (it was the word of the day) Stephen Lucas, 2007 edition because it gave 5 possible patterns. I then went through each structure, gave a brief explanation of it and 3 example topics with outlines for each one. For the last example under the last pattern, Topical, I gave an example of a speech on speech structure with 5 points, which, of course, was exactly my speech. I concluded by saying that I should probably choose my topic before my structure; “so what should my speech be about?” Hahaha.

I had practiced the speech in my cell (under my breath so as not to disturb my cellie) and it always came out at exactly 7 minutes which happened to be the time limit. I even accelerated my speaking pattern because I know that you always go faster when you deliver it live. I came in at 6:36 so I’m kind of curious as to where those extra 24 seconds went. *hmmm* I had asked to go last because I didn’t want to force anyone to go after me and as it turned out at least one of the other speakers requested to not go after me. *chuckle* My evaluator was George, my friend from D&E. I had asked him to do my evaluation because he knows me and it would start getting him used to speaking. Unfortunately, on the way over he told me he is probably going to drop out of TM. 🙁 I hope he changes his mind. His evaluation and all the feedback I got was completely positive. Everyone was impressed with the cute little trick I did to turn the speech in on itself. Since George had no negative comments I even asked the president, Joe, if he had any feedback since he was a professional public speaker on the outside but he only commented on how impressed he was with how smart I was and the secretary even said he was sure I would qualify for Mensa. Now…it feels nice to get affirmation like that but as I told Joe it was just a simple rhetorical trick. Clever, sure, but no sign of some Mensa level intellect. I took the compliments gracefully but was disappointed that no one had any criticism because without that how can I improve? *sigh*

Last night, after the meeting, I came up with my next topic too. The third speech is supposed to focus on a clear general and specific purpose. My icebreaker was personal, the second was intellectual; I wanted the do something different so I decided motivational (not my forte)l. My next speech will be on practicing gratitude to improve your outlook and my attention grabbing title will be “How to Escape Prison.” LOL! After introducing the idea and benefits of listing things you are grateful for, and giving personal examples, I will have everyone write down 3-5 of their own and ask a couple of people to share one of theirs. All of that in 7 min. I love a challenge. *smile* I will open the speech with “thank you for coming tonight; I am grateful for such a warm audience” (but of course they won’t yet know the topic is gratitude *grin*) and I will close with “thank you for being such good audience; I am truly grateful to be here tonight. I will have to wait a while to deliver it though since we have so many members and only get through 4 speeches every 2 weeks. I have to give others a chance to speak too. Hopefully I can give it in Dec. as it would work well with the holiday season.

I am really getting into TM. I hadn’t done much public speaking in a while and I had forgotten how much fun it can be, especially when you get such positive feedback as I’m getting in here. *chuckle* Of course there isn’t that much else to focus on in here so I have plenty of time to mull over my speech outlines and rehearse them. Unfortunately, I haven’t got a lot to do as the VP of Public Relations since that mostly dealt with the quarterly newsletter and the warden has banned us from using the computers because we aren’t “educational.” *grrr* He even suggested we put it together with a typewriter, which would be possible (but a ton work with manual cut and paste)…if anyone in my gallery had a typewriter. Eventually I’ll be in charge of the t-shirt and cap orders, but we have to make a logo first. The secretary is working on that and since we’re in PC and in different galleries we can’t really collaborate. *pout*

Next Wed. I graduate the MRT (Moral Reconation Therapy) class. *cheer* I am still in the MCC – Employability Skills class along with Black. We sit together in the back and are sort of in a friendly academic competition. Ruth, the instructor of both MRT and the MCC class had to give us the TABE (Test for Adult Basic Education) to put in our files. We only had to take the first 3 out of 7 or 8 sections but Black and I did the whole battery. Black finished the whole thing about 60 seconds (3 questions) before me. We’ll just have to see how we scored. *chuckle* As for the MCC class, neither of us has missed a question on a quiz yet so we’re tied.

Hey, you have to have something to focus on in here. LOL!

One disappointment this week was that I tried Quan’s phone number on Friday when I couldn’t reach Justin. I had called Quan while I was in D&E last year over the summer. He was in Chicago for his summer internship and couldn’t talk. Later he contacted my parents and said he was interested in visiting me so I sent a visiting form to his apartment address, hoping he was still there during school. After the 6 months in Columbus, when I got here to TSCI, I tried calling again but he never answered. I’ve tried several times over the past 6 months but there was never an answer. Last night I got an answer, and it wasn’t Quan. I guess he’s graduated, moved to Chicago and changed his number so I can’t call him anymore. 🙁 I hope he answers an email from my parents sometime.

I also had my dad email the NE Ombudsman about my arguments that NDCS is violating NE statute by not providing “adequate access” to programing prior to one’s PED. I expected some defensiveness and a convoluted argument as to why there’s no violation. Instead he completely and whole-heartedly agreed with at least half of my legal argument. However, he and the Inspector General of Corrections have been raising the issue with NDCS for years to no avail since they have no power to force change. I think that I should move ahead with engaging a lawyer for a law suit since a judge could force change. *smile*