July 12, 2011

Toastmasters

I'm not sure I've mentioned it here on my blog, but I am a Toastmaster.  I joined Boise Club 61 last October because I had to, and stayed because I wanted to.

My previous employer wanted me to join Toastmasters because his "consultant" had an over-inflated sense of worth for Toastmaster's Leadership training.  While they do have a dual Leadership and Communications advancement track, the kinds of skills and experience this consultant was expecting from Toastmasters is quite a ways off from reality.

I'm not saying I couldn't use Toastmasters to increase my current skill set, and for the record I do recommend them, just I think I'd get more mileage....or at least the kind of mileage that the consultant was expecting, from my volunteer efforts with the Boy Scouts, the HackMaster Association, or a number of other organizations.

I've always considered myself a strong public speaker, and this consultant wasn't pushing me towards Toastmasters to improve these skills, but really he should have.  While I do have some strengths, after a couple of meetings it is readily apparent to me that I have a long way to go.  Seeing some of the Distinguished Toastmasters speak was a real eye-opener.  Knowing that I have some...ok, a lot...of room for improvement makes me want to keep coming back to Boise Club 61.  As far as Toastmasters meetings go, the environment is a great one and there is one big reason the club is so successful: the members are dedicated to helping themselves and others mature as speakers.

I've noticed that if I have the proverbial "all the time in the world", I can give a pretty good speech.  Given the format of the speech I dare say I can give a damned great speech.  Where I really need work is when I don't have a lot of time.  A short impromptu speech kills me and I'm not too much better with an extemporaneous speech that I've only had a day to prepare.

My last couple of speeches I've "handicapped"myself by only starting on the speech the morning of presentation.  I find that most of my speaking assignments (so to speak, pardon the pun) were the "speak now"or "speak in a couple hours" type affairs.  Since this appears to most often be the case I'm trying to get practice doing this.  So far the results have been varied.



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