Adventures at Toastmasters

Toast

I’m all about consistently improving and upgrading. Not that it works right away, but I usually chisel away at a certain skill until finally I figure it out, or make a mess of things and usually both happen at the same time. Some things I work on for a short period of time, some things take years…and a few probably will be a lifetime. Public speaking is on my list.

So one of my business “to-do”‘s was to get out to a Toastmasters meeting. The opportunity has come up more than once recently for me to get out and speak…publicly… at business events. To be quite honest the thought of this speaking to a room of complete strangers makes me sweat in weird places. And the more I thought about it the more I realized of course it would scare the crap out of me. I have ZERO public speaking experience. None.

The last time I can remember standing up in front of anyone was in 9th grade English class to perform a stoner rendition of a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The fact I can even remember that is a miracle in itself. And even though for most of my mid to late 20’s I was in sales, a sales presentation in front of more than 2 people just never happened. I can rock a trade show talking to people all day, but if I have an audience, stuff starts to sweat.

So anyway, I tra-la-la’d off to Toastmasters. I should’ve heeded a warning from a business friend of mine who has a bit of experience with them who said “Just letting you know, Brooke, they take things very seriously.”

Pffft.

As if I needed the warning I thought at the time, but I guess I did because indeed they do. (Clapping, for example is something I do not take seriously. But arguably I need to rethink that at Toastmasters).

They count your “um’s and ah’s”, they check your grammar, they dissect your speeches and movements, and you have to remember to clap until the speaker sits down, which if they’re sitting on the other side of the room is a hell of a long time to be clapping. (I failed at clapping).

I somehow found the whole process both weird and enlightening at the same time. People get really into this stuff. It’s very regimented and strict, yet open and accepting. Although I consider myself fairly disciplined, strictly regimented things kind of make me squirm. Like an extra nervousness because I was trying to think how I could keep up with all of the rules and processes.

I was also quite young. Not that I even am young, I just felt really young there. Maybe because many of the members are retired.

I also wondered what the hell I would talk about if I had to get up and make a speech. All of my stories involve weird things that may disturb people, or major uses of “What the Fuck?”, or times when someone I know has consumed copius amounts of alcohol. I don’t think I have any G- rated stories in my repertoire, and to be honest I kind of want to keep it that way. I wonder if that could make me the new face of Toastmasters?

Anyway, I’m still intrigued. When I left the meeting someone filled me in that there is actually a chapter right down the street from my house. In my honky tonk pajama loving town! Ha! Who knew?  Going to check them out next week, maybe they tell R rated stories. Stay tuned.

 

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