How comfortable are you with public speaking?
After much thought, I joined Toastmasters International — a public speaking training program with chapters all over the world. A friend belonged to the club years ago, and she’s been raving about it ever since.
I wouldn’t necessarily say public speaking is my strength. I don’t mind speaking in front of people — small groups of friends, if possible.
Toastmasters goes beyond that. A speech is judged (in friendly terms), there is a grammarian present, a table topics section of the meeting where each speaker is asked a question and is required to give a two-minute answer (speech). And the table topics section is separate from the main speech — a warm-up exercise.
There are evaluators, and a vote at the end (best speaker, best evaluator). But the main objective is to become comfortable speaking in front of complete strangers. To grow. There are district-wide competitions (those usually center on inspirational speeches), state-wide, national and even international. This year, the international contest takes place in Malaysia.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I’m new. Last week I delivered my first speech, appropriately titled The Icebreaker. An easy one, according to the members, since all you have to do is talk about yourself.
And that’s what I did for nearly six minutes (one gets timed, by the way). Everyone was nice and congratulatory at the end. But I’m just glad I got through it without turning into a mannequin on stage — there’s no podium, the speaker must use the whole stage.
We meet twice a month, and so far so good. My next speech will be about inspiration, and I think I can so totally talk about that.
So, how comfortable are you with public speaking?
Image: the bizzybuzz.com