As I sit down to write this post, my heart has started beating faster and my palms are getting a little clammy. (TMI?)
But I’ve made a super big decision and I need to tell you ASAP so that you can hold me to it and I don’t wimp out.
I’m joining Toastmasters!
What is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters is a huge organization of people working to better their communication skills. There are thousands of clubs all over the world! You join a club (I think it’s around $40 for 6 months of membership) and receive a manual which outlines the 10 speeches you have to give throughout your Toastmasters journey. I think the speeches range in time from 4-10 minutes and each focus on a different area of communication (ex. one speech will ask you to focus on hand gestures, one on voice control, one on organization, one on visual aids, etc).
In additional to the “formal” speeches you’ll give, you will give impromptu speeches at meetings where someone in the group asks you totally random questions and you have to respond as best you can.
The club is structured around positive feedback, so you won’t be berated at the end about how terrible your speech was. That’s a relief, haha. Although they supposedly do have someone to count your “um’s” and “ah’s” and give you a tally at the end of the speech. That might be the scariest part of all ;)
This sounds like torture. Why join?
I’ve always hated public presentations. I get really nervous and don’t know what to say and I turn bright red and it’s just horrible. Even minor public speaking- like going around a classroom full of people and saying your name and where you’re from- makes me nervous!
But if I am serious about this whole entrepreneurship thing, I need to know how to present myself and actually TALK to people, for goodness sakes!
Joining Toastmasters is practically the scariest thing I’ve ever decided to do, and that’s exactly why I’m going to do it. I figure a club that makes me THIS nervous just thinking about joining is something that I absolutely must do.
People who have gone through the Toastmasters journey say that it made them not only a better public speaker, but a better communicator in all social situations and a better listener. I would really like all of those benefits, please! :)
How can I join?
I’ve started researching clubs in our area (there are a surprisingly large number!), and emailing to ask if I can come to a meeting as a guest. Once I've visited a few, I'll figure out which club would be the best fit for me. I hear that some clubs are super formal, some a little more laid back, some have a younger members, some have an older crowd... etc. so I want to be sure I pick one that fits me well!
AHHH SO SCARY!
It’s kind of crazy that I’m already ranking this as one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life, and I haven’t even gone to a meeting yet. Just the research process and making the internal decision to join is scaring the crap out of me! But I know that this is going to be LIFE CHANGING. I’m terrified (and slightly queasy) thinking about it, but I know it will benefit me for the rest of my life. A queasy stomach and clammy palms are totally worth it.