It has been reported—in this issue, as a matter of fact—that folks who meet at Toastmasters meetings occasionally fall in love and get married. I don’t doubt it. If sharing common goals and values is the basis for a long-lasting relationship, what could bind two people more closely than a mutual desire to win the World Championship of Public Speaking and place the trophy in full view so when visitors ask about it you can say, “Oh, that? Just some little award I won for being THE BEST PUBLIC SPEAKER ON THE PLANET. I’m sorry, did you say coffee or tea?”
It has me wondering—how might two people deeply immersed in the ways of Toastmasters communicate their attraction to one another? It has to be better than the way I proposed to my wife—with a PowerPoint presentation. I know, not romantic. But she was skeptical so I figured my only chance was to build an air-tight case with moving bullet points and flying graphics. Thankfully, my wife has a particular weakness for rotating type.
I know that’s not how a Toastmaster would do it, but then … what if my wife and I had been Toastmasters? How might it have gone differently? Imagine I’m speaking at a club meeting in an audience-participation Table Topics session—where my beloved is the only audience member:
Me: I want to say something I’ve never said before.
She: You’re speaking with your hand in your pocket. Bad start.
Me: Darn! I knew that! I thought because I was standing behind the
She: It’s not a podium, it’s a lectern.
Me: Technically, yes—although some clubs allow “podium” if you put your notes on it and it touches the floor.
She: I wasn’t aware of that. Point taken. I assume tonight’s Toastmaster has assigned the theme of your remarks?
Me: This is more of a Table Topics thing—you know, kind of a surprise.
She: Table Topics? Okay, you have one to two minutes.
Me: What I want to say is … I’ve never felt this way about anybody else, and I think it’s the real thing and I, uh, think we should think about, you know, making it official.
She: You need to work on avoiding filler words. You used “uh” and “you know.” You also used “think” three times in one sentence, which is excessive.
Me: Thank you for that constructive criticism. I forgot what a great Ah-Counter you are. Nonetheless, I’m sure you are aware that there is some debate among Toastmasters as to which is more important: style or substance. What did you think of my content?
She: I believe you said our relationship is at a point where we should consider making it official. Am I to infer that by “official” you’re asking me to marry you?
Me: Good job! You used “infer,” the Word of the Day.
She: Thank you.
Me: Oh, and by the way, your inference is correct. How do you feel about it?
She: I’m the Toastmaster for next month’s meeting. My theme will be “Accepting Marriage Proposals.”
Me: You mean yes?! You’ll marry me? I’m so happy I’m seeing colored lights.
She: That’s the timing signal.
Now, I’m not saying Toastmasters talk this way when they fall in love. But they could.
John Cadley is a former advertising copywriter, freelance writer and musician living in Fayetteville, New York.