Toastmasters, a unique way of learning how to embrace the fear of public speaking. For years, I had the desire to be a good speaker, but really had not thought about joining a Toastmasters Club because I was closed minded to learning about Toastmasters. I really don’t know why, but my mind was definitely one track. I had been stage speaker for several years, confident in my speaking skills and many had said that I spoke well, but I also knew I could also learn something new and this was my new adventure that I embraced.
For years, my friend in Pennsylvania had me asking to start a club or even join one and every time she asked, I would say the same. No, wasn’t my cup of tea, wasn’t interested and didn’t give it much thought because I genuinely had no interest at all. But something happened in 2013 when a local gal asked me if I would join a new club that was going to charter and their goal was to have 20 members in less than a month. I thought why not. What was there to lose, $55 if it doesn’t work out. I use to spend more than that a week on my daily Starbuck credit card, oh I mean Gold card. And in the end, that was probably the best $55 I have spent! Here is what I gained from saying yes.
Club leadership – Immediately I stepped up to be an officer in the club. It was not my plan, but now four years later, I am still a club officer and have held multiple leadership roles.
Competition – I was not very competitive and I am still not a competitive person overall, but this helped me to embrace that friendly competition can be healthy for personal growth.
Opportunities – I have had more opportunities to speak publically and my training skills have dramatically improved because now I have an idea how to gauge time for a brief training with a solid open, body and close. Things we learned in high school, but didn’t really think we needed to learn for the adult world.
Networking – Toastmasters is considered a public speaking class, but it is an optimal environment for networking too. As you prepare your speeches, you are allowing your audience to see you as a speaker and your interests. You can learn personalities through their speaking and they are learning yours as well.
Imagination – As a Toastmaster, you learn how to open up your mind to creative thinking. The books give you a guide you can use or come up with your own topic. One of my best speeches was a debate that I had to write and used a topic that was very controversial, but created a debate of truth. More importantly, it allowed the audience to open their mind to creative thinking, even though the speech was based on a fictional thought. As your imagination and creativity grow, so do your speaking skills to sway an audience to creative thinking.
Friendships - This is probably one of the most valuable rewards of Toastmasters. You become friends with a small group of people who are invested in helping you by offering constructive feedback and open themselves to learn how to give feedback with compassion.
Toastmaster’s is definitely a treasure when you want to build your business or enhance your presentation. Think about investing one or two nights a month for visibility and enrich yourself with a new skill
To find a local Toastmaster’s Club in your area, go to Toastmasters.org. If you are in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area, visit the area clubs to find out more. I belong to The Toast of Fredericksburg and hope to start a club in the Locust Grove area in the near future