July 07, 2019
My weakness is public speaking. It is something I have dealt with for a large part of my life. It is something that has affected the way I interact with people, and how people view me. It is also something that is within my control, and I can choose how I want to deal with it. I have chosen to attack the problem by joining Toastmasters, and gaining experience talking in front of people in a myriad of different ways.
Toastmasters works by having each member go through a path to work on their skills. Each path is project based around getting members speaking in front of each other in a safe space. There are the formalized speeches which generally require research to complete. There are different roles that can allow the member to practice different parts of speech. Ah-Master/Grammarian to cultivate paying attention to bad speech habits. Evaluators to practice listening to speeches for structure and depth. Then there is the dreaded impromptu speaking portion known as Table Topics. During table topics people are picked to answer questions at the spur of the moment while still retaining their ability to speak clearly, and coherently.
I’ve recently embarked on something called a pathway which is like the coursework required for people attending, and participating in Toastmasters. The particular pathway I am on is called Persuasive Influence. The path is about learning:
how to negotiate a positive outcome together with building strong interpersonal communication and public speaking skills
However, all the paths start with an icebreaker. This is where members introduce themselves formally to the group by giving a speech about themselves. After the speech all the members provide feedback, and there is a formal evaulation for the speaker. I have just completed my icebreaker. It was nerve wracking. I spent quite a bit of time writing the speech, refining, and practicing it. When I went to give the speech I was still nervous, so much so that I was shaking, but I pulled through. I gave what I think was a good speech, and made everyone laugh with some well timed jokes, and dramatic license. All the members of Toastmasters were wonderfully encouraging. It was a rewarding experience, and I hope to have many more just like it. Slowing building myself into the person that I want to be.
You may have a weakness too. Something that you know exists, and you simply have not done anything about. It is always a good idea to work on the things you are good at, but taking some time and energy to focus on what you are bad at is not usually anyones idea of a fun time. Perhaps if you are like me, and have trouble speaking in front of people you will join Toastmasters to improve yourself. However, I urge anyone reading this to really think about where you lack, and about ways to attack the problem head on.
Written by Carl Lloyd. He spends his time playing with technology, and learning new things.