To Speak or Not to Speak: That is the Question
Lead Coach and Facilitator at Choose Leadership | Working with Purpose Driven Leaders and Organisations

I’m excited, because yesterday was my first in-person Toastmasters meeting in over 18 months. It feels like a lifetime. I love the biweekly meetings with my fellow toastmasters.

Typically what brings people to Toastmasters is a desire to learn HOW to construct or deliver a speech. This is the DOING of being a Toastmaster. And it is a great place to learn this. You first learn the fundamentals of public speaking, before moving on to how to practicing getting better at the public part – the talking in front of people bit.

The genius of Toastmasters lies in its ability to enable people to make not just technical changes – the acquisition of knowledge and skills, but to make adaptive changes: a mindset shift is the heart of why most people really join Toastmasters – the shift towards being confident to get up in front of people and to speak with ease.

Jerry Seinfeld once noted that according to most studies, “People’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” Building confidence to show up as yourself in front of other human beings, and to share your ideas about something is the BEING of Toastmasters.

How does this happen? Very simply it is by creating a “sandbox”. What do you do in a sandbox? You play. You build stuff, you knock it down, you run around, you throw it at the other kids, you eat it. You have fun. Why? Because people and talking and playing are fun. And safe.

A well run Toastmasters meeting and Club is one of the safest places on earth. A meeting is designed to create psychological safety. It is designed to make failure impossible. By taking failure off the table,  it also dials the fear of rejection down. In effect, it becomes possible to try the impossible.

In any group, we constantly ask ourselves:

  • Do I belong?
  • Am I growing?
  • Am I making a difference?
  • Must I accept the status quo?

“Do I belong?” is really about discovering if I can show up as I am or if I have to hide my imagined deficiencies. Toastmasters is built on the premise that we are not as good at something as we want to be.

“Am I growing?” is really about learning. Feedback after you give a speech at Toastmasters is mandatory. It requires that an experienced Toastmaster to give you feedback on what worked well, what your personal strengths are, and what you could build on. That feedback is the water which nurtures confidence and makes you thirsty for more.

What is most fascinating about Toastmasters is why people stay. Everyone comes to be a better speaker. Everyone stays because of the people. It turns out that people like to be around people who make them feel safe and support them to grow and learn.

Toastmasters is a volunteer run organisation at Club level. The very people you see delivering advanced speeches and running the Club are the same people who years before walked through the door for the first time wondering if they were enough, if they could overcome their fear.

We salute the work of the thousands of Toastmasters clubs around the world who create a safe space to learn and grow.

Contact us if you want to have a conversation about how we can help your leaders to learn and grow.

For leadership coaching and developement, get in touch

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