Toastmasters – First Impressions

Today was the second time I attended a Toastmasters Club meeting. For some reason, after attending a single meeting, I thought I should give a speech in the next one. Note that I’m not a speaker. I have a bit of a stage fear but I decided to embrace my inner warrior and faced my fear.

Thanks to a mentor and my friends who helped me rehearse, I was able to manage my speech. It wasn’t perfect, but I completed my CC1 and got some good comments.

I think the best part about Toastmasters is the crowd. If anyone has to go on a dais and speak without any inhibition in front of unknown people, the crowd should be supportive.

I saw no judgement in the Toastmasters meetings. People appreciated even little things. The negative points were said in a very considerate manner such that no one got hurt.

I see a lot of Toastmasters carrying this attitude in real life. They appreciate everyone openly. They give suggestions instead of negative feedback.

I’m a perfectionist so I almost always feel bad after giving speeches. Even if everyone said I spoke well, I’d still think I didn’t do my best and I’d put myself in a bad mood. But after my first Toastmasters speech, I felt light and I was pumped up for giving another speech.

I did have one conundrum though. A piece of common advice for writers is to use simple words. Never use a complex word, where a simple one will do, they say. The highlight of an article is the concept, not the vocabulary. In Toastmasters, though the importance is on delivery and the content, you’re also supposed to use fancy words. It is not necessary, but it counts.

When I was younger, I would use a lot of fancy words in my writing. I used to be proud when people had to refer to dictionaries to understand what I wrote. Later, I realized I should write simpler to reach more people. I’m the one who should work hard, not my readers. Just when I’m succeeding in simplifying my prose, I’m having to add pizzazz to my speeches. I’m finding this difficult.

My tryst with Toastmasters may improve my public speaking skill over time. But one thing I’ve learnt right on Day 1 is the art of praising others for their deeds. Letting someone know that what they did was good is very simple. Yet, we don’t bother to do that.

I’m glad about this new attitude change in me. Isn’t it nice when we find inspiration in the most unexpected places?

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