I was scrolling through the Apple App store recently and spotted Astound. Astound is a voice and speech coach app to help improve speaking skills. It reminded me of that time I was enlisted into a Toastmasters club, where they tried to help me become passable at public speaking.
How I ended up as a member of Toastmasters is a funny story. I was just starting out with a project that had me going to random events throughout the area and one of them was a presentation put together by one of the Toastmasters groups in town.
It was an interesting presentation; however, I can’t recall what it was about. Attendance got me connected with a lady who I worked with for many of the following years. As the lead organizer for this particular group, she ensured that I joined Toastmasters. Basically, she needed more members and made me sign up to help boost the club. That also meant I had to participate 😂.
What is Toastmasters?
I had never heard of Toastmasters before this. It’s a really great organization that prepares people for public speaking. Each club is unique, but they all follow a template and meetings take no longer than an hour so you always know what to expect.
Education, leadership opportunities, friendly feedback and mentorships are all a big part of Toastmasters. With a healthy number of members in a club, you can expect to only have to make a speech every few meetings. It’s a safe space to test out and improve your skills while also helping others do the same.
My Public Speaking Experience
I am not a public speaker; this is a fact. I can sit around a table with people from many different backgrounds quite comfortably. Share ideas and experiences, ask questions, etc. Having to stand up and address them as a group though? Yikes. Still not something that I excel at or enjoy.
It’s not Toastmasters’ fault that I still suck at public speaking. They did try their best to prepare me. This was something that I never thought I’d have to do. I am more likely to fight having to do it if at all possible. My journey would throw many such opportunities my way however, and I would never have been able to consider doing them without that practice at friendly Toastmasters meetings.
The biggest speaking event I was roped into (sorry, fortunate enough to do) involved a ballroom full of super professional people from a variety of agricultural backgrounds. To say I was anxious about this is an understatement.
I opted to create something beforehand so I could just present the information and do a short q and a afterwards. It worked, I survived without throwing up or passing out. Thankfully, my quirky cartoon presentation went over pretty well and got a lot of positive feedback at the event 😂. You can check that out below if you’d like.
If you fear speaking in public but want to overcome that, I highly recommend checking out Toastmasters! If you stick with it, you’ll be a pro in no time!