My introductory speech class gave impromptu speeches tonight. Persuasive speeches where they had to convince us to do something differently.
Or change our minds about something.
I gave each one a topic as they volunteered to speak.
Topics like making Dr. Pepper the official state beverage or buying a ferret for a pet.
Good solid topics that make you think.
When they finished I told them turn about was fair play, so they gave me a topic.
“Convince us to not wear clothes!” one yelled out, and they all got a gleam in their eyes.
For the first time all night they weren’t ready to bolt out the door.
Made me think of the first time I ever gave an impromptu speech.
My friend Carolyn’s mother was the speech coach at our high school, so when the team went to a tournament at our cross-town rival school, they invited me along.
And entered me in impromptu speaking.
Had no idea what I was supposed to do.
“Just get up there and talk, Sally, you can talk about anything,” they all encouraged me.
The topic I drew in the first round was a question – why do skunks have white stripes?
I don’t remember anything I said. Just that I paced back and forth like a caged lion.
I came in fourth out of six.
I think five and six didn’t show up.
But the judge took pity on me and after the round he showed me a simple outline structure with an introduction, body and conclusion. Told me just to remember the rule of three in giving a good speech.
And stand still.
So I did and in the next round I came in second.
I didn’t break out of the preliminary rounds, but that was okay.
Something more important happened that day.
I found something I could do.
And that’s always a really big deal.
Especially for a kid.