About Two weeks ago, I went to my first Toastmasters meeting. They held the meeting at a church, which was a little odd for me(I’m unholy), but I still entered. It took all the strength I had to get out of bed, get ready, and show up to a meeting. I was forcing my self to go, but I had a goal, and I was going to see it to the end. As I entered, I was scared of being in a room full of strangers that I never met before and possibly having to talk to everyone. On a side note, I hate talking to strangers.
I am a bit of a procrastinator. It took me several years after hearing about Toastmasters to attend the meeting. I decided to participate in the meeting because I want to improve my public speaking. I am not scared to speak in front of crowds, but I know I am not good at it. I think this has been holding me back. Throughout my career, I noticed effective speakers always move ahead. The ability to connect with another person is essential in the workplace. If I mastered the skill and had it in my toolbox, I know it can help me move ahead in my career and even life.
The meeting had all types of people from all walks of life. A few people seemed a bit strange. I sat beside the older gentleman he had been attending Toastmasters for years, he told me once he started attending, he became hooked. Everybody at the meeting was extremely friendly and inviting. While I was a little uncomfortable, everyone tried their best to make me feel wanted.
The meeting started with group votes involving club decisions and then moved on to a quick exercise of Impromptu speaking. After the impromptu speaking, they moved on to prepared speeches. Judges critiqued the prepared speeches. The speakers ranged from beginner to expert, but everybody was incredibly supportive. After the prepared speeches, they moved on to table topics. Table topics are a random question posed to you, and you have a minute to answer. This teaches you to be sharp on your feet.
At the end of the meeting, I learned a lot of things. First, not judge a book by the cover, there was a lot of people of all ages there that night not just young professionals. I learned that Toastmasters was inviting to people of all levels. I watched a man stutter over himself, trying to get all his speech while another told his story eloquently. No matter what level you are on, they were supportive. Now I would like to pose the question to you. If you were in front of a group of strangers, would you be able to speak? Do you think being able to speak in public will help you conquer your fears? Do you want to move ahead in your career? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should check out Toastmasters. I have decided to join the group and work on my Toastmaster skills, and I hope you go to a meeting and decide to do the same.