You Are Such A Good Speaker! When did that happen?

Toastmasters

I am writing this post while in Vermont, but you are probably reading this post when I am in Miami. This is because things are crazy again.
I have been doing a lot of speaking over the past year. I have been, obviously, speaking to groups about Modern Persuasion. I had a virtual book club meeting with a club in Tennessee about a week ago. I am going to be speaking to a group of people in Miami on Sunday. This is not the only speaking I have been doing. I have been speaking about libraries, Wikipedia, and Bullet Journaling recently. After every event and session, I always get someone who tells me that I’m such a good speaker. Yes, I have put just as much time and effort into becoming a good speaker as I have put in to becoming a good writer. I am always looking to improve my skills too.  What have I done?  Well, let me share my journey with you because the speaking and writing development have followed similar paths.

Toastmasters

Most of this started in Middle school when I was in a magnet program in Miami that had me focused on speaking and writing skills, but it was in 2004, as an adult, that I found my way to the two programs that would shape my life right now: National Novel Writing Month and Toastmasters International.  Today, I am going to tell you about Toastmasters and why it made me a better speaker.

To be clear, I love talking and I love talking in front of people.  If you have met me and don’t realize that then that’s probably because I am new to a situation and learning the rules. Most people join Toastmasters to get over their fear of public speaking.  Not me, I went because I struggled to focus as a speaker.  Yes, public speaking requires focus and knowing your message.  Why am I so good at speaking: because I am happy to talk and I know what I want to say.  I don’t memorize a speech, I know what to say because I know my topic.  I could be in a classroom talking about doing research, standing in front of 100 people talking about Wikipedia, or before a group of 10 women who just read my book.  It doesn’t matter, I speak what I know and I spend a lot of time finessing the speech.  It means that no two events are the same, even if I am speaking about the same topic.  I know about how long it will take me to give a specific speech or workshop.  I know what I can cut out to make it shorter and what I can add to make it longer.

These are the things that Toastmasters taught me.  I quickly made my way through their basic program.  It was 10 skill building speeches, designed for novice and nervous speakers.  My problem was focus for all of them.  I could talk forever, but limit me to 5-7 minutes?  I couldn’t do it and I always ran over my allotted time.  Then I learned more about organizing, much like organizing your writing.  With 5-7 minutes, you can make 2-3 short points about your topic.  So, if I can share only 2 brief things, what do I want to say?  After a few years, I could do it.  Even today, I can do a lightning talk on a topic. I can even answer questions on the fly with little prep.

Why? Because Toastmasters taught me.

I obviously can share more.  I have always loved sharing Toastmasters.  If you see me speak and I seem pretty good at it, you know why.  If I don’t seem pretty good at it, then I didn’t prepare correctly or don’t know the topic well enough.  In the comments, tell me if you are interested in learning more about Toastmasters and what I learned in the program.

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