Ready? Set? Speak!

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 Less than two weeks ago, our neighborhood was notified of a proposed zoning change and an upcoming meeting at the Fort Worth Zoning Commission. NIMBY – NOT In My Backyard — suddenly took on new urgency as the proposal was to change the current zone to put apartments up – yes, literally in my backyard!  Yikes!

At the meeting, my next-door neighbors and I filled out our “I’d like to speak in opposition because…” sheets to turn in. Zoning meetings allow for 5 minutes presenting the “For” viewpoint, then 7 minutes total for the opposition, followed by 2 minutes for rebuttal. I hoped there would be others who wanted to speak, so I knew I shouldn’t take the entire 7 minutes. Yet I felt it was critical that I say SOMETHING.

I reviewed the helpful notes in the CC manual under Persuade with Power. I felt prepared to overcome objections, support my points clearly and effectively, and use personal narrative to connect.

As I sat in the council chamber, and heard our agenda item announced on the docket, I felt a rush of adrenaline. My body felt flushed, I felt my heart beat, my palms grow sweaty, my lungs fight for air, my stomach start to turn flip-flops. And I reminded myself, “This is not a room full of gladiators and grizzly bears, there is nothing to fear. Adrenaline is my friend; it will help me communicate with passion and energy as long as I stay focused. You have half of the 7 minutes, so keep it as long as an Evaluation and you’ll be fine.” Almost immediately, I got control of the anxiety and felt “the butterflies fly in formation.”

Three and a half minutes of clear, confident communication, talking directly into the microphone, with vocal variety and specifically enumerated transitions, and I turned control to the next Opposition Speaker. Less than 10 minutes later the Zoning Commission made a unanimous decision to recommend denying the requested change. Yay! Victory!

I couldn’t have done this without the training of Toastmasters. I couldn’t have done this without learning to channel adrenaline (see the module Controlling your Fear) and to organize my thoughts effectively.

As we were heading for the exit, a man came out of the council chambers. “Congratulations to your group,” he enthused. “Y’all did great. And that young lady (he pointed at me) is tremendous! She got power, she said all that needed to be said and had time left over!”

Yes, the butterflies were flying in formation this morning. I’m pretty sure they were Monarchs — because when all was said and done I felt EMPOWERED.
Thank you Toastmasters!

Sara Boepple, DTM
ProAM 7407 and Speakers Exchange 633836