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I believe I have a new goal to accomplish.  This afternoon, I accompanied a friend to a Toastmasters meeting, the SEC Roughriders Chapter in NYC, one of the oldest in the city.  The chapter’s name made my brow pop upward, but these members are no joke.  If you’re not familiar with Toastmasters International, here’s the low-down:  It’s an organization that works toward improving the speaking, listening, and leadership skills of its members.  It’s pretty intense, here’s why…

  1. There is a portion of the meeting devoted to Table Topics, which develop impromptu speaking skills.  A different question is asked to each member, so no one can prepare ahead of time.
  2. Everyone who speaks is evaluated by an evaluator–even the evaluators are evaluated!
  3. They are sticklers for time–everything and everyone is clocked.
  4. They don’t let you get away with any mistakes.  They even have someone keeping notes on grammar mistakes and “um’s”.

Yikes, I’m getting anxious just typing this!  So why do I want to join this group and subject myself to all this scrutiny?  These people are AMAZING speakers, that’s why!  They think on their feet and deliver outstanding speeches, most without notes of any kind.  No stuttering, no fillers, no fumbling for words.  The speakers were funny, powerful, entertaining, and inspiring.

I don’t know why I’m so scared by the idea of joining this club.  I’m a pretty good speaker already.  I have taught Voice & Diction at NYU and have a background in acting–so I can certainly control my vocal attributes and speak in front of tough audiences.  I should be fine right?  I’d like to think so, but my weakness is impromptu speaking.  It terrifies me.  I like to have a speech prepared, memorized, planned.  I can deliver a convincing, intelligent answer when I have an idea what will be asked.  But some of the questions they asked in the Table Topics section of the meeting would have totally stumped me.

However, in the interest of my continuing resolution to do things that terrify me (with the caveat that it will benefit me of course), I have to do this.  I would love to have the confidence and skills to speak in any format, in anyplace, at anytime, to anyone.  So I’m adding another goal to my list…becoming an accomplished Toastmaster.  I’ll let you know how it goes.Share

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