Toastmasters – What is it?
What do you understand when I say that I am a ‘Toastmaster’?
For some, it may be the toast that we eat. For many, it’s the toast speeches delivered during meetings at pubs, bars, on special occasions, etc. I, as a Toastmaster, am the second one. I am a public speaker. According to some research conducted in the USA, it’s the one thing people fear most. Even more than death itself. Here, here and here are some articles confirming that.
How can you overcome this?
Simple: Join Toastmasters!
Alternatively, you can also ask me.
Let me tell you how it happened.
I was invited to speak in front of about 200 people from around the world. I was to tell them about JCI (Junior Chamber International) and who we were, what we were doing, etc. I also had a presentation. During my presentation, I realised that I was quite nervous. I also made people listening to me nervous. I cannot say it was quite a success. However, I met a good friend, who became a JCI member after the event. So, not a total failure, I’d say.
I was determined to improve my public speaking skills and what better way to do it than joining Toastmasters. Within JCI, one has a lot of public speaking opportunities during one’s career. However, with Toastmasters, one has a chance to talk in front of an audience, meaning the other members and guests, at every meeting, provided that one is an active member.
We can only improve ourselves if we truly work on the things we wish to improve about ourselves. Public speaking is one of such things. Think about a baby. If the baby does not crawl, can the baby’s hand muscles grow strong? Or if we don’t practice a language we learn, can we expect to speak the language, to come by, let alone being fluent at it? It’s all about practice and everything follows suit.
As for the details of the meeting, there are three sessions:
The first one is prepared speeches. People prepare speeches according to the carefully crafted instructions available on the toastmasters.org website.
The second one is evaluations. Each prepared speech has a specific type of evaluation conducted by experienced members of the club. The evaluations are the constructive feedback session. We hear what was good about the speech we just delivered. And how to make it even better.
The third session is the impromptu speech part, also known as Table Topics session. The part I love most, as the Table Topics Master (TTM). The TTM asks and the one who was chosen as the speaker has to speak at least one minute about the question at hand. Sometimes people get quite imaginative during their impromptu speeches.
I didn’t tell you the best part of the Toastmasters yet. It’s the audience. It’s one of the most supportive and constructive audiences you’ll ever come across. That is how people forget about their fears and start working on improving themselves on their public speaking skills. It’s absolutely crucial to have a supportive audience, to forget about one’s fear and focus on what can be done and what can be told. Then it becomes the time to shine.
If you need some information about Toastmasters or joining a club or just what it is, you are most welcome to drop me an email and/or join at one of our meetings directly.
We, at Toastmasters, also make leaders. That’s another article’s matter though 🙂