This past January I joined my local Toastmasters International club. Before then, I had never heard of this organization. I was actually advised to join by a professional speaker that is a role model of mine.
The first meeting I went to was interesting. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I was very pleased with the experience. Of course I arrived early, and was greeted by multiple members of the club. I was there for five minutes and already felt like a member of the group. I took a seat with plans to observe. I viewed the detailed agenda and waited for the meeting to start. I observed how the meeting was structured and how it followed the agenda exactly. I was impressed! I was also happy to see people deliver speeches, as well as the evaluations that were given on their performances. I followed my plan to observe until it was time for the Table Topics section of the meeting.
As a guest of the meeting, I volunteered to participate in the Table Topics by delivering a brief 1 to 2 minute speech about a topic given without notice. I was a bit nervous, but at the end of the meeting I was voted to have the best Table Topic speech! By the time the meeting came to an end, I was hooked. I knew for sure that I would join, and couldn’t wait to officially join at the next meeting.
Just last night I delivered my first speech from the Competent Communication manual, the Ice Breaker. The Ice Breaker is designed to help the speaker become comfortable by allowing them to introduce themselves to the rest of the group. This is the first of ten speeches that qualify a member to earn the Competent Communicator designation. I’m happy to say that I did well! I delivered a solid speech, but of course I have room to improve. That’s why everyone is there!
If you have a desire to improve you speaking skills, I highly suggest you find the nearest Toastmasters club. The organization offers a no-pressure, extremely supportive environment where each member shares similar goals. Other than giving speeches, the club offers numerous ways of being involved, such as evaluating, timing or offering the Thought of the Day.
Do you belong to a Toastmasters International club? Is there something else you do or have done to improve your speaking skills? If so, I would love to hear from you!