Public Speaking

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?


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14 responses to “Public Speaking

  1. Funny, even though I was a teacher I hate public speaking. People tend to think all teachers can get up and speak, not this one lol. I think it is great you are doing this and hope you share more about it :)
    Oh, and six minutes is a long time, way to go!

  2. I’d say I’m fairly comfortable with public speaking when I have a purpose, like teaching, or delivering information. Not as comfortable “off the cuff,” or as a formal speech. I was nervous in speech class. However, I love to perform, and I was a speech coach for a few years. The more you do it, the more natural it feels. Good for you!

  3. I have feared public speaking since I was in grade school–stomach turning a week before a speech, hands sweating, lips trembling, the whole bit. I’m getting a little better, but it’s still very tough for me. I’ve considered joining Toastmasters (face your fear!) but haven’t worked up the courage to do so, yet.

    • I know exactely what you mean, Linda. I think Toastmasters is perfect for this face-your-fear situation, especially if you join a smaller club and work it up from there. Give it a try.

  4. The funny thing is that I’m comfortable with public speaking only with strangers! Usually, it’s the other way around with people. I guess it’s because I don’t care much what strangers think of me, so I don’t feel the pressure to perform well.

    Toastmasters is a great step to perfect the art. Good luck with it :)

  5. Toastmaster is a wonderful way to become comfortable speaking in public, Sylvia! Good on you for making this choice! I spent nearly 40 years giving lectures to big classes (170-400 students), and it did make it very easy to get up and speak, since I didn’t use notes for my lectures. Since I’ve been retired, I obviously haven’t been lecturing but I did give an hour talk last year (on one of my favorite topics, Leonardo de Vinci). It was pretty nerve wracking being on the spot again, but with some rehearsal, the talk was successful. So that’s the key: practice, practice, practice. If you have the opportunity to prepare ahead of time, practice your talk. I’m sure you will be a great speaker, since your blogs are wonderful.

  6. I think for me it all depends on how comfortable I am with the subject. If I know what I’m talking about then I’m fine with it. I’ve done readings at church so that helps. And way way way back when (in the dark ages) I did take public speaking in high school.

    Good luck as you progress. I’m sure your going to be a wonderful speaker. The interesting people always are.

  7. Hi Silvia .. No – not all comfortable! I’ve tried Toastmasters a couple of times … so very good luck to you – it sounds like you’ve taken to it …

    I’m happy talking to a few … I guess the time will come when I get to talk to others and more …

    Enjoy though – Hilary

  8. As a teacher I got over the fear of public speaking a long time ago. I’ve now spoken to whole ballrooms of people. Of course I was nervous, but I just thought of it as teaching and it went fine. Congrats on taking such a positive step and joining this organization! Best of luck!
    Tina @ Life is Good

  9. How comfortable am I? Not THAT comfortable. I do educational lectures for our 40-ish unit of residents on a weekly basis so I’m pretty ok- but time me, judge my grammar, rate my stage presence and all that? Nope, not comfortable with that at all.

    Congrats on your kick-ass bravery in taking on this challenge!

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