I gave my sixth speech this morning and am nearing the one-year mark as a member. Here are some highlights of my experience so far:
- This sounds arrogant, but before I joined, I could not imagine liking a group of people who gathered in the very early morning to give speeches to each other. I was so wrong. It’s a fun group, and even on mornings like today, when I didn’t get enough sleep, I never struggle to find value in time with this group. There’s a lot less “talking to hear yourself speak” than you’d imagine, if you’re cynical like me.
- Speeches on random topics are much more interesting than they sound. People try to make their speeches relevant to you, so even if they’re speaking about something that isn’t directly applicable, it’s useful.
- I love extemporaneous speaking. I almost hate the weeks I actually speak, because they render me ineligible for Table Topics.
- I haven’t won a single ribbon for anything other than Table Topics, and it’s starting to bug me.
- I’ve won two ribbons for Table Topics. Yay for success.
- After a lifetime of being told that my humor was too dry, I’ve found a group that laughs at my jokes (and recognizes my humor as humor.) It might be love.
- In giving my speeches, I was extra super-duper prepared for the first few. I’d get so nervous I’d make wrong turns on my way to the club. More recently, I’ve been less prepared, and much less nervous. Today, I was hardly nervous at all, and I had rehearsed way less than usual. I’m not saying that less preparation is better, but I’m glad that my adrenal system has stopped running my speeches. I know it’s enough to have an idea where I’m starting and ending, and what I’m trying to accomplish.
- People outside of Toastmasters have stopped saying that I’m not a good public speaker.
- I finally gave a speech without overusing the word “so.” I’ve eliminated most of the other filler words, but I overuse “so” as a transitional word.
- Confidence in your ability to say something useful is almost more important than what you actually say. This is where I still have to grow. My need to prove my worth/defend myself against imagined criticism gets in the way in almost every area of my life, but especially with some speeches.