Like a Roller Coaster


Written by: Nando Miranda


The first time I ever rode a real roller coaster was when I was 8 years old. My parents took my three older siblings and I to Disney World near Kissimmee, Florida, during a road trip from Charleston, South Carolina, to Montgomery, Alabama. We had spent the previous three years at the Panama Canal Zone where my father was stationed. We were oblivious to American television commercials and amusement parks.

Space Mountain was the name of this roller coaster. It still exists to this day. And yes, I was scared out of my shorts, no less. After the anticipation of waiting in line coupled with a great fear of the unknown, my white knuckles gripped the safety bars as the car slowly lurched clackety-clack up the hill, in total darkness!

Space, the Final Frontier.



No way to turn back now!


I’m going to die! I’m going to die!



Oh my gosh, all I saw was space around me! Stars, galaxies, meteors, comets smothered with a sudden moment of panic as I thought to myself, I can’t see the track!

Not knowing where this coaster was going, I squinted my eyes and focused ahead trying to catch a glimpse of a falling star illuminating any tiny part of the dark track. I tried to figure out how far this first drop was going to last and predict which direction the car would turn next. Not only did the designers of Space Mountain give me the fear of a fast, indoor coaster, but being virtually “blind” during the trip was a cruel, yet welcome, added bonus.

Whenever I prepare a speech for my Toastmasters Club in Helsinki, Finland, called Stadi Talkers, I think about Space Mountain. I have the same chills beforehand, the anticipation, the butterflies in the stomach, the preparation, the self-questioning stage, the point of no return, the out-of-body self-awareness of all eyes on me, including my own. Ridiculous, but true.

I just signed up for speech #7.

10 days out

I have time to prepare.

5 days out

What is my topic? What is my structure?

3 days out

I’m going to die! I’m going to die!

Prepare, practice, then deliver!

Do you know what is the best part of the speech writing process for me? I am the designer. I can map out how I want my audience to experience it. I can also build the introduction and the conclusion to have any effect. But most importantly, I am the creator of twists and turns and drops and hills and varying speeds, of which, the audience has no clue. Of course each audience member may try to figure out what would be said next, some of them perhaps more accurately than others, but they are all essentially — in the dark.

You have to ask yourself.  Which do you enjoy more? Being the roller coaster passenger? Listening to speeches without knowing what is to come? Or do you prefer to create your own roller coaster and let it unfold before the audience as they experience it?

I highly suggest you aim to become an expert in both roles. Learn to be a better listener and practice to become a better public speaker. With both, you’ll need to have your mind and eyes wide open facing your own fears. Regardless of what you try first, you will induce the same feelings of foreboding, anticipation, excitement, butterflies, a sense of relief that it is all over, but above all, you will obtain a sense of accomplishment.

You have survived, you are alive! Now go and build your own Space Mountain!

– Photo of Space Mountain by Nando Miranda. All rights reserved.


Start the year by joining a Toastmasters meeting!


The great thing about our times is that, more than ever before, IF WE WANT TO, IT IS POSSIBLE! In the context of the beginning of the year, where we are pressed to produce our New Year’s resolutions list on the pattern of a strategical report we shall commit to all throughout the year, such sentence might sound phony – such resolutions being at best wishful thinking.

a Toastmaster (TM) in action

At Toastmasters it is made very easy to improve our communication and leadership skills, if we only take this first step of acknowledging how essential their improvement are in building of a successful professional career and a fulfilling life – and then act upon it. To those who share this belief, the different Toastmasters groups in Finland (see list at end of this post) are sending them the following invitation: JOIN a toastmasters meeting this year – for free as a guest – and form your own opinion about how this organization and its training in public speaking could support your aspirations. Wouldn’t it be fantastic it helps you to reach your self development goals in communication and leadership as it helped millions of people around the world? Wouldn’t it be fantastic you end up being a “competent communicator” at your own pace? The only think you need to do is try once and decide…

Group of TM members

So, here is a calendar of the Toastmasters sessions organized all throughout Finland in the beginning of this year. If you like the principle, you might consider joining Toastmasters as a member or implementing the scheme within your company or in your city. What is certain, is that you will find people who share the same goals as you and who are ready to help you reach yours!

  • Helsinki

Group 1: Stadi Talkers, 10th January, 24th January, 7th February, 21st February 18:00-19:40 at the Dubliner’s, Mannerheimintie

To register and obtain more details about one of the above Stadi Talkers meetings, please go to:

Group 2: Helsinki Toastmasters, 20th January, 3rd February, 17th February 17:15-19:00 in Keiluranta

To register and obtain more details about one of the above Helsinki Toastmasters meetings, please go to:

  • Hyvinkää

    Annie Peng, Hyvinkää Toastmasters


13th January, 17th January, 10th February, 24th February 16:30-18:00 at KoneCranes

To register and obtain more details about one of the above Hyvinkää Toastmasters meetings, please go to:

  • Tampere

13th January, 17th January, 10th February, 24th February 17:30-19:00 at TAKK – Tampere Vocational Adult Education Centre

To register and obtain more details about one the above Tampere Toastmasters meetings, go to:

  • Nokia (company group)

TM Tuire


If you attend one of these meetings, do not hesitate to comment on this post and share your opinion about the benefits and possible improvements to the Toastmasters meetings!

Article by Ruxandra Balboa-Pöysti