The Toastmasters philosophy

This is what I say when I’m trying to explain to people who are scared of public speaking why it’s a good idea to join Toastmasters.

Speaking in front of large groups is often nerve-wracking for people. That’s because when you have to make a presentation, it’s to clients, at a conference or a community meeting — and you only get one chance to get your message across.

No wonder public speaking is terrifying. It’s all or nothing. If these are the stakes every time you have to make a speech, when can you practice?

You can practice at Toastmasters. Toastmasters is full of people like you. They’ve joined because they want to be better speakers. They’re supportive. They would never make fun of anyone for stuffing up.

I’ve got a story for you. This happened backstage at the grand final of the international Toastmasters competition one year. The contestants were waiting to get on stage. One guy was relaxing against the wall. Another guy was pacing anxiously backwards and forward, forward and backwards.

“What’s wrong, mate?” the relaxed guy said.

“I’m nervous, really nervous,” said the anxious man.

“Nervous?” The first man was incredulous. “What for? It’s Toastmasters! Even if you’re crap, they’ll still clap!”

Even if you’re crap, they’ll still clap. That, my friends, is the philosophy of Toastmasters.

2 comments

  1. Daniel says:

    Nerve-wracking? No way. All or nothing? Isn’t that what makes it so exciting?

    I think the trick is to take that whole “butterflies” sensation and use it in a positive way.

    Its like swimming in the ocean. Its pretty scary. Say you get caught in a rip and washed out to sea. Because you’re scared, you’ve got all this adrenalin and energy. If you just start sprinting back to shore, you’ll get tired really quickly, not really get anywhere and drown because you’re swimming against the current – this is like having a really flat audience or boring speech to make and it feels like you’re battling and drowing all the way. However, as anyone who’s ever swam in the ocean would know you need to stop worrying about how far away the shore is, relax, and swim sideways relative to the rip. Then, in a slow and relaxed manner, slowly make your way to the shore, trying to ride the waves as you go. That way, you don’t get lactic acid build up and you don’t fatigue as quickly, and you might live.

    This actually happened to me at the start of the year (in the ocean, not public speaking). You just need to stay calm and channel your energy. Your nervousness is like a double-edged sword, and too many people use the wrong bit.

  2. misscipher says:

    I feel that the main reason why my boss has been hesitant to give me more responsibilities is because I have communication problem. We are in the consultant sector and communications skill is very important. I have been thinking on joining toastmaster for a while now… But first, I need to overcome my fear in taking the first step, which is attending the first session.

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