“A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”
~ Winston Churchill
Twice a month I intentionally expose myself to the same terror – public speaking! A couple of years ago I faced up to my fear of speaking in front of an audience and joined the Winona Toastmasters Club. The club hosts meetings on the first and third Tuesday of every month, so I’ve gained a good amount of experience over the last few years.
Toastmasters is a worldwide organization dedicated to helping people practice speaking, listening and leadership skills. Toastmasters is open to community members age 18 and older, of all backgrounds and experience levels. Members are interested in personal and professional development, and want to improve their communication skills. A typical meeting involves assigned roles that allow the opportunity to practice varying levels of public speaking skills and learn from positive feedback and constructive criticism. Guests are welcome to visit, observe and participate.
The club is a diverse collection of community members looking to enhance their skills in leadership, listening, and public speaking. I have yet to completely outgrow my fear of public speaking, however the on-going challenge that I put myself through at each meeting has greatly decreased my unease when addressing a crowd. My subject matter ranges from making up elaborate and heroic stories about my puppy (Tall Tale), to an embarrassing story about my second marathon (Humorous Speech), to the relationship between spirituality and healthy living (Research Speech).
While I am not naive enough to believe that practice will convert me into the perfect public speaker, I do recognize the value of regularly challenging myself through the various meeting roles and learning to articulate my thoughts on the spot. If you ever decide to explore Toastmasters, The Winona Toastmasters group meets from 12:05-1pm on the first and third Tuesday of every month in the Wenonah Room on the third floor of City Hall.
“99% of the population is afraid of public speaking, and of the remaining 1%, 99% of them have nothing original and interesting to say.”
~ Jarod Kintz
It’s okay to be part of the 99% that fear public speaking. But you have something to say. Learn how to do it effectively.