According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. For Jerry Seinfeld, that means for the average person that if you have to go to a funeral, you’d rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.
I went back and looked at that original study and it is the percentage of people who named Public speaking that made it number one. No one ever said, put me down, it beats speaking in public! But we’ve all experienced that fear at some point in our lives.
Which brings me to Toastmasters. Toastmasters International is a 97 year old organisation dedicated to growing speakers and leaders. It’s longevity begs the question: why has it been so successful?
My take is that Toastmasters is like a sandbox.
What do we do in sandboxes? We play, we have fun, we enjoy ourselves. And we also learn in a safe space.
Want to learn how to write a speech? It is estimated that we spend 40% of our time at work engaged in non-sales selling. Toastmasters well help you to better influence others, persuade others, convince others. Better to get others to buy what you are selling. You’ll practice writing 10 different speeches and listen to loads of other people and you will come to learn what works and when it works and what doesn’t work as well as you had hoped.
Delivering a speech? You’ll have the chance to speak every meeting, if you so choose. You’ll learn how to use your voice, your body, words, how to inspire , how to make people laugh, how to make them cry. That said, no one ever has to speak until they are ready.
Finally, Toastmasters is about getting better not being good. You will get feedback on every speech you give and the primary focus is on what you did well, not what you didn’t do well. You will probably already have ideas about what you didn’t do well, but it less likely that you will know what it is you did well.
You are here for your own reasons, which means you are in competition with yourself. It is like a speechifying gym: you don’t compare yourself to how someone else is doing, but rather to where it is you want to be.
TalkClub, the toastmasters club based in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, Ireland, is the sandbox that I play in. We are having an open night on Tuesday, 1 February @ 19.30 pm. (message me for the Zoom Link)
Come along and discover what happens when a group of people, aligned around helping each other build their public speaking skills and confidence, get together. Discover why our slogan is “Toastmasters: where leaders are made.”
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