Lessons from Toastmasters Meetings

I always believed public speaking wasn’t my cup of tea. While the fear of public speaking tainted my confidence, I met people who enjoyed it without any fear, anxiety, or alarm. I always wondered how they managed it.

Before joining Toastmasters, I did not participate in public speaking platforms apart from classroom presentations. However, I had always wanted to improve my speaking competence, especially English. Seeking constant improvement to become better has been my intangible aim, and to quench this thirst, I joined Baneshwor Toastmasters Club a year ago.

A Toastmasters meeting has three decisive segments that drive the one and a half-hour meeting – Impromptu speaking, Featured Speech, and Evaluation. These three segments assess the overall quality of a particular meeting. There are a few valuable lessons I have learned during my journey, and I am constantly trying to better them.  

Impromptu speaking on your nerve: 

This segment is “giving a speech with a little preparation” or thinking quickly on your feet when you’re asked to speak on a given topic. I usually can’t manage the attitude to go and speak. This segment is also more like when you are giving a job interview. Someone asks your thought on a topic that you didn’t have any idea about. Here, the chance of getting a job depends upon how you respond in terms of content, logic, and it is still important that your answer depends upon how clearly and concisely you have communicated. 

The art of evaluation:

In Toastmasters meeting giving proper, clear, concise, and content feedback is more difficult than giving a prepared speech. I believe giving well constructive feedback is the core essence of the meeting. Based on it, speakers are motivated to improve on recommended areas. To sharpen the proficient evaluator, it is important to read Toastmasters materials, watch videos on youtube, and take mentorship from experienced Toastmasters. It also requires the skills of practice, observation, and reflection. It’s been a year, however, I still haven’t built enough courage to take this role. The apprehension has stuck in my heart. It’s easy to think you are not experienced enough to evaluate, but Toastmasters has taught that we can learn from anyone. 

Well drafted speech is a journey of self-reflection: 

I have learned that if I enjoyed my speech topic while drafting, then the speech is likely to be far better. Similarly, when I was confident, there was a high chance of connecting with my audience. The subject matters that form the speech come through constant learning. The areas that excite me and the ones I want to learn more about can be great speech topics. For example, I enjoy reading a lot of non-fictional finance and economic books, article, etc and I think about ways to incorporate them into my speech. After choosing my topic I begin to document my ideas and the possibilities that come with it. Finally, I naturally bond with the speech as it begins to draft itself in my mind. 

Deepak Luitel, Baneshwor Toastmasters Club 

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