My Toastmasters meeting was yesterday and I got started on a new manual, once I finish this one I will earn the Advanced Communicator title and award. Last week was the concluding speech for my previous manual, and the consensus was that it was my best speech yet. That’s a tough act to follow. I just finished the Story Teller manual, now I’m on the Entertaining Speaker manual.
The first assignment in it (the one I did yesterday) was simply to give an “entertaining speech,” hands down the vaguest project I’ve yet completed. I thought all speeches were supposed to be entertaining. Anyway I wrote up the speech, and even though I forgot my notes I did just fine without them and was able to to improvise quite a bit. My improvisations brought a lot of laughter. Overall it was a success and club members thought it was my best delivered speech yet, though the content wasn’t as good as last week’s.
The next Toastmasters meeting is tonight and I’m going to be giving a speech. I’m three speeches into my Advanced Storytelling Manual, once I give this next speech I will only have one speech to go before I finish that manual and will move on to another one. It’s been over a month since I have my last speech, sometimes I fret a bit when I haven’t done it in a while.
When I was working on my Competent Communicator manual I gave a speech from it every week with only two gaps, so I knocked out a ten speech manual in twelve weeks. I’ve been working on this current one since January, it’s taken much longer because we have a lot of recently joined members who are beginning their Competent Commicator so meeting have usually had their three speaking slots filled. Sometimes I fret when I begin writing a speech, but for the next project we aren’t supposed to use notes and I plan to give my speech from memory. It’s about a life experience so I needn’t write anything down.
One new thing I started doing shortly after my most recent blogging hiatus was joining Toastmasters International. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Toastmasters is an international public speaking club. Each meeting two or three speeches are given by members. After the speeches are done each one is given an evaluation from another member. Evaluations are brief, with usually two or three positive things mentioned about the speech and one (no more than two) things to improve upon.
I’ve never been afraid of public speaking. On the contrary I’ve always enjoyed it. I joined because I wanted something new to get into and it never hurts to hone your public speaking skills.
When you first join you are given a manual to get your first title, Competent Communicator. In order to achieve this you must complete the ten speeches required by the manual, each one is focused on a specific task that will help you when you give speeches later. Once you have your Competent Communicator you are free to start on a more advanced manual (there are a ton to choose from) or give speeches unrelated to to any manual.
Another thing you will learn to do well is writing. You’ll write almost all of the speeches you give in the club, and writing is just as important as delivery when it comes to speeches. If not more so.
I managed to get my Competent Communicator in 12 weeks, which senior members of my chapter told me is the fastest any member has done it in recent memory. If you want to sharpen your speaking and communication skills I highly recommend you check out Toastmasters. Here is a link to get started: https://www.toastmasters.org/find-a-club