What a nice crowd! You all look awesome! I am so glad to see so many old friends and new friends. When I am standing here, I can’t help thinking of my first experience of public speaking. That was many years ago when I was in the university.
One morning I was sitting nervously in a lecture hall waiting for my name to be called to do a short presentation in front of 130 classmates. My face was flushed, my mouth was dry, my voice was trembling, my heart was pounding like a racing rabbit, and I really wanted to go to the bathroom! While I was ready to die for going up to the stage, the professor announced he had to make a change in the schedule so my presentation was canceled. Whew, what a relief! That’s was my first experience of public speaking.
Fellow toastmasters and welcome guests, do you have this kind of public speaking fear? Please raise your hand if you do. Thank you! You see, you are not alone. 70% of the population have the fear of public speaking. According to the Guinness Book of Records, 54% of American adults rank public speaking ahead of the fear of death among life’s major fears. A word is even invented to describe the fear of public speaking or of speaking in general. It is called glossophobia.
You may wonder if there is any chance you can be a better speaker. If there is any chance you can be the speaker on the stage. The answer is absolutely yes! NY Best-selling author T. Harv Eker said, “Success is a learnable skill. You can learn to succeed at anything.” Public speaking skills are learnable. Confidently Speaking Toastmasters can help you learn those skills and become a better speaker with confidence.
Back to my story . . . being a shy introvert, I had been tormented by the fear of public speaking for many years. I was supposed to teach in a college after I graduated from the university. Because I was so afraid of public speaking, I decided to work for an import and export company instead.
In 2010, my husband and I started our digital marketing training company. Ironically I became a trainer. This time I was a lot better than I was in the University. I had no problem teaching classes to a small or medium group of people. Since 2011 I have started to give free seminars on various digital marketing topics to practice my public speaking. Though I could deliver my topics well, I knew I need to have a systematic training to polish my presentation skills. After some research, I found Toastmasters is my best choice.
Toastmasters International was established in 1924. It has more than 332,000 members in over 15,400 clubs in 135 countries around the world. I heard about this organization many years ago but I never thought it could help me because for years I had accepted the fact that I was not a good speaker.
Now as a trainer, I have to be a good speaker. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t matter what you do, public speaking is important for you.
Here is why public speaking is important:
- Get more opportunities in your career
Imagine that among hundreds of people competing for one job, if you can impress the hiring manager by presenting your skills and strength better than other candidates, you will land your dream job. In your daily work, if you can communicate and present well in team meetings you will get your boss’ attention. When he looks for someone to promote, you will certainly be the first one on his mind.
- Establish yourself as a leader and authority
When you give speeches to a small, medium or large group, you start to establish yourself as a leader and authority in your field. People will remember you and begin to see you as an authority. Instead of chasing after new clients and prospects, you will attract them to you like a magnet.
- Increase your confidence level and self-esteem
If you can communicate with people effectively, entertain them, educate them, persuade them, motivate them and inspire them, your confidence level and self-esteem will increase. You will certainly feel good about yourself and enjoy a better relationship with people around you. They could be your friends, co-workers, boss, prospects, customers and family members. Of course, you will know what to say and how to approach people in a social or networking event.
I joined Confidently Speaking Toastmasters in March 2014. During the past 2 years, I’ve witnessed so many members (including myself), who started as nervous newbie speakers, become better speakers with confidence. Let me share with you how Confidently Speaking Toastmasters can help you.
The benefits of Confidently Speaking Toastmasters:
- Overcome your public speaking fear
Do you know the secret to overcoming the fear of public speaking? Let me tell you . . . the secret is . . . “practice and practice and practice and practice.”
The toastmasters meetings are learn-by-doing workshops. There is no instructor. You will have a mentor assigned to you once you join the club. You decide your own pace according to your schedule.
We meet every Wednesday night. The meeting is structured in a way that gives everyone opportunities to stand up and speak. I recommend you attend the club meeting regularly. There are plenty of opportunities for you to take on different roles.
By taking different roles over and over again, by delivering speeches one after another, you will become less and less nervous but more and more confident. According to psychologists, repetition can loose your sense of sensitivity, fear and nervousness.
Toastmasters educational system has two tracks – communication track and leadership track.
- Follow the communication track to build your public speaking skills
The communication track is designed to build your public speaking skills step by step. You start with the Competent Communication manual. It has 10 projects. Each focuses on one main objective. It helps you build up the basics of your public speaking skills. For example, how to organize your speech, how to say it, how to use your body language, vocal variety, visual aids, etc.
Once you complete you CC manual, you enter into the advance level. You can choose from 15 advanced communication manuals to learn skills specific to your interest. For example, I am trainer and I want to be a professional speaker so I choose Professional Speaker manual. If you are in sales and marketing and want to increase your conversion and sales, you can use the Persuasive Speaking manual. If you want to be good at technical presentations, you can choose the Technical Presentation manual. If you just want to speak with humor, you can pick up the Entertaining Speaker or Humorously Speaking manual.
- Follow the leadership track to develop your leadership skills
The leadership track is designed to help you develop your leadership skills. You get credits when you fulfill different club meeting roles, organize club events, and serve in the club executive team and beyond. Who says you are not a leader? Learn to be a leader at Toastmasters.
- Develop critical-thinking skills and build listening skills
By writing your speeches on different topics and evaluating other member’s speeches, you will develop critical-thinking skills, improve your writing skills, and build listening skills. You will communicate in a clear, well-structured and logical way and speak like a pro.
- Enjoy a safe, friendly, supportive and fun environment
We are a diverse group of people who work together to improve our public speaking skills. We all want you to be successful. No one is a born speaker. Here is a safe place to practice, make mistakes and learn. You will be amazed by the positive, encouraging and constructive feedback you will receive every time after delivering a speech or taking on a role. Moreover, we are a group of fun people. The theme of each meeting is different. Each meeting is exciting, inspiring and fun. Because the culture of our club is fun and excellence!
From an introvert to a confident speaker, I can’t say enough about the transformation Confidently Speaking Toastmasters Club has brought to my business and personal life. This year I have been selected to present a workshop in Toastmasters District 86 Spring Conference which will be held in April in Mississauga. Even last year, I would not have imagined I could do it. It is the support and mentorship from our club members that encourages me to pursue a bigger dream. English is not my native language. If I can do it, you too can do it.
Dear guests, if you want to overcome your fear of public speaking and become a better speaker, make a decision to join us today. If you want to have more opportunities in your career, establish yourself as a leader and authority, or increase your confidence and self-esteem, make a decision to join us today.
What is your investment? It is not $20K, it is not $2K. It is only $200 a year. I visited this club once in 2009 but I didn’t join because I thought it would be very expensive to join. Every time I talk about this, I want to kick myself for not joining back in 2009. If I had joined at that time, I would be an even better speaker. So don’t wait, fill out the application form and get started! Remember, you may claim the membership fee as business expense. Some employers even pay for your membership fee.
Joining Confidently Speaking Toastmasters Club could be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made in your life. Three years later, when you look back, you’ll be amazed by the progress you’ve made in your career, business, and personal life. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Join us today to get started!