I attended my first Toastmasters event at Lewisham Speakers. It was held in a local church hall, I was apprehensive as I walked through the doors, this was my first positive step in over coming one of my biggest fears. There were about fourteen people scattered around the hall talking amongst themselves. Someone came over, introduced himself as the club president and told me about the club. They meet the first and third Wednesday every month.
When the meeting started, the president spoke about someone called Ralph Smedley. Ralph founded Toastmasters in 1924, after seeing a need for formal communication lessons while working for the YMCA. There are now over 16,000 clubs in 145 countries. The meetings last around 90 minutes with a break in the middle. During the first half I listened to 3 members give a 5 minute speech on topics they had prepared.
I have given several presentations, some have gone well, others not so. I can not remember a single occasion though when either my manager or one of my colleagues has suggested what I could have done better. What I like about Toastmasters, is that after every speech, another member provides you with constructive feedback, this is typically in the format, commendation -recommendation – commendation.
During the tea break I chatted with a few of the members, there was me thinking I was the only one who hated public speaking. A familiar theme as to why most people had joined Toastmasters became evident.
After the resumption, we entered something called table topics; the table topics master gives you a word or phrase. You then have to talk for 1 – 2 minutes on that subject. One minute may not sound long, but when you mind goes to mush, it is! What was your most memorable holiday? The toastmaster then looked at me and invited me onto the stage to answer. 50 seconds later, I was back in my chair. I didn’t make the minute mark, but I gave it a go, and I felt chuffed with myself.
Share by Samuel – VP Education