goals: interact with audience, only walk with a purpose (do not aimlessly walk), stand firm, vocal variety
Good evening Mr Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and honored guests.
4 days ago, on the night of January 24th, 2015, something happened to me. Something happened that changed my life. I was caught in a situation where I was fighting for my life. As a result, this survival situation taught me something that nothing else has ever taught me before.
Now, one of my biggest hobbies is backpacking. I live, breathe, and sleep backpacking. Backpacking is essentially going into nature for multiple days, only having access to what can fit on your back. This effectively strips you down to the bare essentials, and allows you to enjoy a very pure experience – to get away for a while. I’ve backpacked dozens of times – in the woods, the desert, through rain, and even through a blizzard.
Last weekend, I went to go backpacking in a place called the New York Mountains, in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
It all began on Saturday night, when a friend of mine (whom I just met) decided to go on a short hike to the nearby spring that was shown on the map (which was shown to be a quarter mile away). Our other two friends stayed at camp. We brought no gear other than our headlamps. After about an hour of hiking, we realized that the spring was no longer there and had dried up. It was getting dark, and we headed back. There was absolutely no distinct trail, but we knew we were headed in the right direction. After another hour of hiking back, we started to realize we were hiking further away from the spring area than our camp site. We kept going, and my friend insisted that it was just a little further – as I was getting more and more hesitant of continuing on. What happened was we took a trail that led parallel to the trail we were supposed to be on, but was off by just a little bit. We tried taking another trail back towards the spring area, and never ended up finding our camp. It was dark, and all mountains/featured were merely silhouettes. After hours of hiking, thinking we were too far west when we were actually too far east, my friend and I came to a disagreement. I wanted to keep hiking all night to keep warm – he wanted to stop, lay down, and spoon to keep warm while attempting to sleep. I ended up not wanting to lose him, so I went with his plan.
Who here has ever been so cold they have been shivering, teeth chattering? (raise hand)
Now imagine, shivering, teeth chattering, all night long with absolutely no way to escape it. That was us. (act out shivering)
We spooned all night and did not get a wink of sleep, because we were shivering all night long. The next morning we woke up, took out our map and could not hold it straight (act out shivering hand). Suddenly, we heard a car in the distance. It was a jeep full of quail hunters. As we waved our hands, they stopped. The first thing they said was “Before you tell us that you’re lost, did you see any quail?” They helped us out and gave us a ride back to camp. Our friends were our looking for us, and were ecstatic to finally see us back.
Some take-aways from this trip are: do not underestimate the difficulty of navigating in the dark, always bring emergency gear with you, and backtrack as soon as you realized you’re lost
A favorite quote of mine goes: “Relax, Nothing is under control.” Through this survival experience, I realized that even the experienced and apparently-prepared can be caught in a survival situation. I learned that no situation is ever 100% under your control, and you have to be willing to adapt. Thank you.
FEEDBACK: pro: was relaxed, organized speech, interesting speech, had some funny parts, asked audience a question, used pauses better, clear intro/conclusion, good storytelling
con: rocked back and forth, addressed right side of room more, do not address audience as the very first line, use pauses more effectively, take out unnecessary parts of speech (too much detail/redundant), don’t rush through stories – give audience time to digest, use emotion more (like during part we realized we were lost), make message more applicable to everyone, prepare more (I became redundant because of improvisation)