Would you agree that there is nothing scarier than public speaking? If you ask me, I would say-YES! Sweaty palms, shaky hands, and racing heartbeat, it is without a doubt that public speaking is one of the most shared fears among many. However, the way I like to see it, is that within that fear lies a huge potential to achieve greater success.
Speaking in front of a crowd was one of my greatest weaknesses. Every time I had to present in front of my classmates, I would be really nervous and agitated to the point that I thought I was facing death. However, everything has changed when I finally joined Toastmasters, a worldwide known public speaking club.
When I initially joined the club back in 2015, It was only for a short-term commitment until I finally became a loyal and devoted member of my current club in 2019 and I love attending the meetings.
So let me tell you a little bit about what Toastmasters is and why you should join it.
Toastmasters is an international public speaking club founded in 1924 by Ralph Smedley in California. The club was initially established to help a group of people improve their communication and public speaking skills. Thanks to its huge success and benefits, more and more Toastmasters clubs were created; now we have more than 17,000 clubs all around the world.
When it comes to Toastmasters, there are so many misconceptions; some think that it's a cult that whoever is part of it is planning some conspiracy theory against the world; however, many are not aware of the treasure you can get from joining the club.
Here why is I love Toastmasters
It is not just a public speaking club -Toastmasters is not simply a place where you practice your public speaking and communication skills, but it is a place where you learn all types of valuable soft skills. Completing all the educational projects that the program offers, taking on roles, organizing, and conducting meetings address many of the skills we need in real life. The various projects that a member needs to complete, address the development of many skills such as leadership, active listening, teamwork, critical thinking, conducting interviews, and more. The list is endless and Toastmasters offers a well-rounded package of skills and develops you into the leader you are meant to be.
It is a place of network and social gathering- The beauty of Toastmasters lies in the people that are part of it. You have people from diverse ethnical backgrounds and different ages who are there to learn and to genuinely help and support other members to excel. I got to know different people that I consider my mentors, my friends, and even my family because they have supported me to grow and improve my communication and public speaking skills.
It is a peer-to-peer learning platform- At Toastmasters, you deliver your speeches and you get feedback from experienced speakers. You don't need any sort of degree or qualifications to be either a member or to give feedback. You learn by observing and by providing constructive feedback which is also a great way to improve your analytical and critical thinking skills.
You always learn something new- Usually the Toastmasters' meetings are held once a week and at each meeting, there is always "the theme of the day" which is a topic determined a week in advance by the VP of Education. The meetings are structured in a way so that every speech is tied together around that theme. Every member brings something of their own and at every meeting, we come out more knowledgeable and smarter :)
It looks good on your resume - Did you know that employers actually know what the Toastmasters club is? Showing that you are a member of a Toastmasters club will definitely differentiate you from other candidates because employers know that whoever is part of it is there to improve their leadership and communication skills. It shows commitment and devotion towards improving yourself personally and professionally.
You get to be part of the executive team and show off your leadership skill- Each Toastmasters club has an executive team, a group of designated people who ensure meetings are run properly. Some of the roles are VP of Education, President, Secretary, VP of Membership, and so forth. It is thanks to these extra positions that you develop additional skills that you wouldn't otherwise. I am the VP of Education myself, not an easy role, and among the many executive roles, it is the most challenging and demanding one. Ensuring that each member is assigned a role, organizing and scheduling meetings, choosing the themes of the meetings, preparing speech contests, and providing weekly tips is a lot of work, but for me, it is the most rewarding and self-fulfilling experience ever, and I also like the title of VP of Education. It's pretty fancy, isn't it? :)
You have access to many free workshops- Perhaps you are a manager and you want to learn how to manage a team effectively, or maybe you want to write a book, but don't know how. Well, did you know that Toastmasters offers workshops on these topics? These are indeed the secrets of joining the Toastmasters club; the variety of the services it offers that many are not aware of. So what are you waiting for? Go and join a Toastmasters Club now!
I could go on and on and list all the advantages of joining the Toastmasters club and the list may never end. I learned so many great skills by being at Toastmasters and some of them are being a better leader, speaker, and communicator. For instance, I know how to play with my vocal variety, when to use my emotions, when to be dramatic, and how to use pauses and silences in a speech. Everyone thinks they are great speakers, but not when you are put on the spot which is when you realize that you are not so good as you thought you are. Everyone can speak, but not everyone is a great speaker. Like everything in life, learning a language or a new skill takes time, sweat, and commitment. Luckily, every corner of every city has a club. Toastmasters is a safe place open to everyone who has the willpower to learn and to grow.
I am no longer so afraid of speaking in front of a crowd although the 2-3 seconds before getting on a stage I am definitely frightened; however, my end goal is to use my voice to evoke change and to inspire others. With time and practice, I will master this skill and so can you!
“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson