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Thread: Attending Toastmasters and other tips to improve public speaking

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    Attending Toastmasters and other tips to improve public speaking

    The art of public speaking has never been my strong point, and as a result, I tend to shy away from giving presentations. So much of a plannerís job relies upon effective public speaking, especially to crowds that may not be receptive to what you have to say. I'm left wondering what's the best way to improve. Did anyone have a similar anxiety with public speaking? I'm curious to hear what has worked to overcome these fears? I hear good things about Toastmasters, and there is a local chapter not too far from the office. That would be a start.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Never attended toastmasters but I have heard good reviews. I did debate and speech teams in high school and then speech team for 2 years in college and competed in limited preparation speaking (extemp and impromptu). I also did comedy improv for a few years so I really feel at ease speaking to a small group or several thousand. My biggest problem in the past was eye contact but I think I have improved somewhat over the years.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    I have about 10 years of Toastmasters membership under my belt. Six years of very active, area and regional manager, helped with district education,newsletters, etc. and 4 years of active membership in my club but not much else. This is across 4 clubs, 3 metro areas and about 14 years.
    Toastmasters is really good at helping you identify your weak areas and work on your specific needs. They help with the basics, as needed, and are excellent with learning how to conduct a meeting. Robert's Rules apply, so you learn those just by doing. You learn A LOT about grammar, meeting conduct, timing, making an outline, eye contact, notes, role playing, and much much more.
    All clubs follow the same rules, but each club is different. I belonged to one club that was very formal, and another that was more casual. I recommend that you attend a couple of meetings as a guest, to see how the club feels. If you aren't comfortable, you won't get as much out of the experience. Try another club - it may fit you better.
    I'm happy to tell you more about my experiences. I'm a firm believer in Toastmasters and I think they can benefit everyone. But you have to be willling to participate to get the most out of it.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I was a SUPER shy kid and even through high school the idea of giving a talk or being in a play was terrifying. I donít know what changed, but now I really enjoy public speaking. The key for me is being prepared. I rehearse what I am going to say MANY times before I present. Then I am speaking with my own voice because I have really internalized the message and not reading from cards or otherwise sounding like I am regurgitating some memorized speech.

    One thing that really helped me with this was an acting class. We didnít produce a play or anything, but worked on posture, projection, presence, breathing and a lot of improvisation. It was hugely helpful for me and a lot of fun to boot.

    Never done Toastmasters, but hear its really helpful and a supportive atmosphere. I donít think you could go wrong with that avenue. For me, the acting class just worked with my schedule at the time, so I donít think its necessarily better. But I do want to act in a play now! That actually sounds fun Ė 35 years later.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    I just spoke on a panel today and we had a student from Eugene with us. She was petrified even though everyone thought her presentation was interesting and useful. I tried to talk to her later about how cool I thought the project was and she just wanted to run away (I'm not Pedobear or Uncle Pervy).

    Anyway, lots of things got in her way. So many things would fall away if she could at least pretend to be confident.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I was in Toastmasters for about five years. I enjoyed it. It helped me. The meetings are very supportive. You get good positive comments and you get honest comments on how to improve.

    There are often several clubs in your area and it is important to find the right one that fits your schedule and personality. Each club is different. Some are more structured than others. The one I attended has a religious current that I eventually found off-putting.

    I never got to the point where I could do my five-minute speech without a prepared speech in front of me. I tended to write speeches that were very language oriented and humorous and I never had the time to memorize them. However the Table Topic portion of the meeting, where you have to make up a one minute response to a question, I eventually became one of the best in my club.

    I reccommend Toastmasters if you want to hone your speaking skills. Most days it is even fun. I would repeat that you should find a club that fits you. The clubs welcome guests and you can go to a few different clubs if you want. Be warned you will be asked at the end of the meeting about your thoughts. Just keep it short. There isn't pressure to join. They tend to welcome guests until they feel comfortable about joining.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  7. #7
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    When a female coworker is complaining that the Commissioners do not listen to her advice because she's a woman, don't say, "What? Did you say something, Little Missy?"
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

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