Shameless Plug for Toastmasters
This past weekend the Toastmasters District 84 speech contest was held. The winner qualified to compete for the Regional and International Speech contest held later this year in August. Out of a worldwide organization of 12,500 clubs and just under 250,000 members only one will crowned champion.
If you are a Toastmaster and have never been to a speech contest at this level you are missing some of the best examples of presentation skills you have ever seen (not to mention a great conference for both education and networking with other Toastmasters).
If you are not a Toastmaster then I would urge you to consider joining.
I’m not big on shameless direct advertising, but it is the most inexpensive self-improvement program there is. It is the only place I know where you can go to find supportive, knowledgeable people whose sole purpose is to help you get better at speaking.
They have no religious, political or social agenda. But, they don’t care if you have one. They have no other goal beyond helping you become a better speaker and allowing you access to leadership opportunities within the organization.
Unlike the National Speakers Association, whose emphasis is on the business of speaking, Toastmasters concentrates on the mechanics of presentation; the “walk before you run” process. The process itself is self-paced and you can look at it as your own personal lab. Just during your first few speeches you will learn to use your voice, eyes, body language and props to help create and deliver solid presentations that get people’s attention and get your message across. I don’t know anyone else who does this – for less than $100/year.
You also get immediate feedback. Each speech is evaluated by someone who has more experience. Their job is not to tell you what you did wrong (this isn’t high school). It’s to bring to your attention to things you could have done to have had a greater impact; insight or ideas you may not have considered because you were too close to the presentation.
This was an issue for me when I joined because I was used to having someone tell me what I was doing wrong when I’d given a speech (you guessed it, high school). It affected me for my first 5 speeches until I had a Distinguished Toastmaster (highest educational rank in Toastmasters) show me a way to make a point in my speech that I hadn’t considered – and, I had to admit, it would have made a much better speech!
At that point I was sold.
OK – corny, shameless plug –
“Have trouble speaking before an audience? Don’t have leadership opportunities afforded to you at work? Need a career accelerant? Take the time to check out Toastmasters – there’s a club near you! CALL NOW!”
And maybe we’ll see you on the contest stage.