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Setting sails
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"Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us." Isaiah 26:12

Thursday, July 29, 2010

On Monday, I was Eleanor Roosevelt

Relax please, it's not a sign of a mental disorder.

I've moved on to working in an Advanced Toastmaster's Interpretive Reading manual, and this was the assignment on interpreting a famous speech. Usually the words famous speech bring up an instant list of Presidents and civil rights leaders. I didn't want to force my audience to listen to their forty-sixth reiteration of anything, so I went looking for something different.

The first one that caught my eye, on collecting books, was too short to fulfill the requirement of  using eight to ten minutes of speaking time. The next, by a famous fantasy writer, just didn't "feel" like the right material. Then, I found Eleanor Roosevelt's speech to the District of Columbia Library Association.

I read it, keeping track of the time using the stopwatch on my phone. Then I settled in to do some necessary editing, to fit the time constraints. After several days of cautious trimming, the length was suitable. Toastmasters aren't supposed to act, but I went looking on the web for any video of Mrs. Roosevelt. Maybe I could incorporate a gesture she was likely to use.

Seeing the few existing video clips also gave me ideas of what she might wear. This was one of the assignments that encouraged the presenter to appear in costume. The more I watched, I began to chuckle. I could improvise with items in my own wardrobe.

On Monday, I was a sight in navy blue: a long pleated skirt, shell, and blazer, highlighted only by my approximation of her double-strand pearl choker. I wore a white curly wig I'd originally purchased for another occasion, and a hat atop that. The photos my friend took are not going to appear on the internet.

I'm discovering it's harder to hold an audience's interest when the speaker must break eye contact to read her material. Still, some of them set aside their lunch to listen. Eleanor herself didn't have Toastmasters experience. She always read her speeches, and rarely appeared to make any eye contact with her listeners.

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