Welp... I did it! I went to my first Toastmasters meeting on Monday night. It was awesome!
Okay, well maybe not "awesome". But not nearly as painful as I feared.
The most painful part might have been getting dressed up- they call for business casual attire and I don't think I've worn business casual since my last day of office work... over 3 months ago. Sidenote: what do you people wear on your feet in the winter that is "business casual"? I used to wear my (knock-off) Ugg boots to commute then I'd switch to flats once I was at my desk... I guess I need to start doing that again for these meetings!
The second most painful part was the getting there. There was snow on the ground (and a good 4 inches on my car that I had to clean off, boo) and I was NOT looking forward to winter driving. (I honestly have not driven in the snow at all this winter... I walk or Mike drives wherever I need to go! I'm a wimp, I know) But I didn't skid off the road or crash into anything so I will mark the trip as a success!
The actual meeting was pretty cool. It is VERY structured... the agenda is written out to the minute! There is a gavel and a podium and they use the gavel to call the meeting to order and to adjourn and everyone shakes hands whenever they interact and they introduce each other every time they switch speakers and fancy things like that. (#runonsentence #sorrynotsorry) I was a little surprised that it was that hardcore but quickly got used to it.
Another lady there was a guest like me, so we sat together and bonded over our guest status. A few minutes into the meeting, we were asked to give a little introduction to the group. It was super informal (thankfully we didn't have to go to the podium to do it) and just probably 20 or so seconds of who we are, what we do, why we're looking to join toastmasters... etc.
Then the real part of the meeting started. This meeting was a bit different, evidently, because there was a competition. Four members had volunteered to do "Table Topics", which is where they leave the room and one by one come in and get asked a question and then have 2.5 minutes to answer the question. For this competition, each person was asked to answer the question: "I remember when..." and could answer in any way they chose. They were judged by a few of the members and then given certificates for 1st and 2nd place.
Then the president of the club gave a ~7 minute speech that he was working on in hopes of presenting it at a competition. This is the part I was most expecting from toastmasters! He gave his speech and then we went around the table (oh I should probably mention, there were about 12 people there) and we gave him constructive feedback. This was nerve-wracking because I had no idea what to say! I kept it positive (it was a good speech so you couldn't really say anything negative) but gave him what I hoped was good feedback. Later in the meeting, two other people referenced what I said, so I'm glad they agreed with me :)
The meeting ended after a little over 2 hours, and I hung around for a few minutes talking to someone about membership. I don't remember if I referenced this in my original Toastmasters post, but it's $20 initial fee to join and then $42 every 6 months after that. I think each club has it's own pricing but it's probably around $40 every 6 months. I think it's totally worth the investment.
I originally planned to visit multiple Toastmasters groups and decide which one fit me best. I emailed this club and another one, but that club never got back to me! (and it's been over a week...) I could check out a few others (they'd just be a bit farther away) but I felt really welcomed with this group so I think I want to join this one. There is another meeting next Monday, and then every other Monday after. I'm excited to go back and see what happens!
Making the first step = DONE. Toastmasters, here I come!