Shirley and the Slug – The Inside Story!


Shirley and the Slug

I’m going through a real grungy stage with my speeches at the moment,  a bit like a teenager trying to figure out her own style , it won’t be long before I start wearing DMs, heavy makeup and get my eyebrow pierced!  What an improvement I hear you say!!

But that is the beauty of Toastmasters, it allows you to experiment in front of a supportive audience, different techniques and ideas and my speech at Monday Night’s session, “Shirley and the Slug” was testament to that.

Having spent the last 3 months talking about Immortal Jellyfish, I started to worry that I had some sort of animal obsession. Would I ever do another speech again without referring to an animal? Is this the cornerstone of my success? Will I get up at the World Championships one day and have nothing to talk about except  farmyard animals and furry pets?! I hope not!

Getting down to business, I decided in the first instance that I wanted to story tell and try telling a speech backwards. Why? Effective Storytelling is vital if you want to become a good speaker and it’s all about practise. Telling the story backwards? I refer you back to my opening sentence.

My assignment was Speech 8 in the Competent Communicator manual “Get comfortable with Visual Aids” and to help me on my journey, I brought along a homemade Dali-esque clock to indicate the different timelines in my story.

The speech was actually a true story. When I was at Uni, I decided to buy a hamster (Shirley) which was a challenging time for some of my housemates. One day, after a big night out, my housemate Paul informed me that my hamster had eaten a slug the night before and was dying. I rushed her  to the vets, only to open the lid of the shoebox in front of the receptionist to see her charging around, looking better than ever. Embarrassing!  I then realised as I was heading home that I’d locked myself out and had to jump over the next door neighbours’ wall and gain access to the house as I raced against the clock to get to Uni. When I returned, I decided to clean out the hamster’s cage but as I was lifting Shirley back in, she bit me so hard, blood literally splattered on the white wall and I can honestly say that bite was delivered with heartfelt meaning and venom – I had been a bad owner.

I was delighted to get back on the Maidenhead stage and if the RSPCA don’t come knocking in the next few days, I will be back on the 14th June with my final speech of the CC manual – what a couple of years it’s been!

Big shout out to my partner in crime, Julie Farrell for a fantastic ( oh no, we’re not allowed to say that anymore ) a, err… tremendous …evaluation – good work all round and a great night.


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