The Screech of a Speech

The first ¾’s of my speech went well last night. After practicing for over a month, words flowed from my mouth with the ease of clover honey. I engaged my audience with carefully chosen words, eye contact, and well-calculated humor.

Then I saw the yellow light. In a 5-7 minute Toastmaster speech, the yellow light means one thing: the speaker is one minute over the minimum time and one minute from the maximum. But I was waiting for the green light to tell me that I had just enough time left to bring the grand finale, the most poignant part of my speech.

I never saw the green light.

From the moment I saw the yellow light, my mind took a skid. I struggled to recall those well-practiced words, but they had retreated to places beyond my grasp. Then the red light appeared. I had 30-seconds remaining.

Wait! I wanted to tell the audience. Can I press rewind? I spit words out, trying to catch up. But it was too late. I crossed the line into overtime. My speech was disqualified.

Like a good sport, I smiled and congratulated the winners. I graciously thanked the people who complimented my speech. But I knew what the speech could have been.


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