When someone asks you what your book is about can you tell them in one sentence without missing a beat? If you’re asked to speak at a local chamber meeting about your book, could you speak with confidence? Do you want to spread awareness for your book, your brand, or your platform?
If so, you should consider joining your local Toastmaster’s group. To find your local group click HERE.
Last March I joined the Warsaw Noon Toastmaster’s Club because I wanted to improve my speaking skills. Not only did I want to be known as a writer, I wanted to grow as a speaker too.
On the first day, I was NERVOUS. What did I know about speaking? I didn’t know one person in the meeting either. Our meetings are held in a conference room at a local company, a Johnson and Johnson Company called DePuy, where they manufacture hips, knees, and shoulders. Most of the people who attend these meetings are scientists, engineers, corporate men and women–those who I don’t have anything in common with.
Or so I thought.
What I discovered was that we all want to improve our speaking skills, and I’ve learned so much from them about other cultures and growing as a leader. Our group has “Toasties” who are from India, Japan, China, and the US. We laugh. We’re inspired. Sometimes we cry. But most of all we learn. We learn how to speak without over-using um’s, ah’s, so, and ands. We grow professionally and personally.
If you haven’t heard of Toastmasters before, here is their WHO statement:
“Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. Our membership is more than 332,000 memberships. Members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 15,400 clubs in 135 countries that make up our global network of meeting locations.
The world needs leaders. Leaders head families, coach teams, run businesses and mentor others. These leaders must not only accomplish, they must communicate. By regularly giving speeches, gaining feedback, leading teams and guiding others to achieve their goals in a supportive atmosphere, leaders emerge from the Toastmasters program. Every Toastmasters journey begins with a single speech. During their journey, they learn to tell their stories. They listen and answer. They plan and lead. They give feedback—and accept it. Through our community of learners, they find their path to leadership.”
What I Love: A novel takes approximately 80K words to write. A speech takes 500 – 1500 words. There’s a quicker closure to writing a speech. I can write one a day or less and it includes a beginning, middle and end. Imagine that! As writers, we’re storytellers. Giving a speech is sharing a story that has a message. And the bonus: THE AUDIENCE LISTENS.
What I learned: That I’m like a rubber band. Each time I stretch myself and give a new speech I learn and grow. I never return to my original shape. Each time I speak I gain more confidence, and learn something new about myself and my audience.
Contests: I’m a sucker for writing contests. Once I entered and won $1000 on the first 500 words of my novel, Scattered Links. If you like contests, there are speaking contests too! When I decided to enter the Humorous Speaking contest with Toastmasters, I never expected to win. I’ve never been funny, but writing for years and years has helped me hone a funny topic and voice. I won three trophies and the right to add a tag line to my resume as “Award-winning Speaker!” You could too.
Leadership Opportunities: Each time we meet we have the chance to get involved as a leader, to bring value to others lives, to be a part of a team.
For You: If you’re looking for ways to build your resume, impress your boss, improve your personal growth, or meet new people, consider visiting a local meeting.
DOES SPEAKING IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE SCARE YOU?