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Don’t Let Your Fear of Public Speaking Get You Down- Join a Toastmasters Club

Updated on May 17, 2013

“The fear of public speaking ranks higher than the fear of death: This means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
-Jerry Seinfeld



Is Jerry right? Do more people actually fear public speaking more than death? Are you one of those people?

Perhaps you don’t fear having to speak in public, but it makes you a little uncomfortable. I think everyone feels a little nervousness in this area. Maybe it’s giving a speech in front of hundreds of strangers, delivering a presentation in front of your co-workers, or giving an impromptu toast at a wedding, we all have had times when we had to deal with public speaking.

Have you ever considered joining a local club of Toastmasters International? Whether you’re a bundle of quivering nerves every time you have to speak in public or whether you are already an accomplished speaker who wants to fine tune some aspects, Toastmasters can be a great help, as well as a lot of fun.

What is Toastmasters?

With over 280, 000 members in 13, 500 clubs in over 116 countries, Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. Toastmasters provides motivated individuals the opportunity to improve themselves in the following areas:

  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Organizational skills

Toastmasters encourages you to develop your public speaking skills by providing a friendly, positive and supportive learning environment.

What are the benefits of Toastmasters?

  • Improve your public speaking and leadership skills
  • Ace those job interviews and jump start your career
  • Deliver great business presentations
  • Build your network
  • Make great new friends

The benefits of Toastmasters membership are limitless. The Toastmasters program is tailored to meet your personal objectives: whether to improve in prepared or impromptu speaking, to become more comfortable with visual aids, or to conduct effective meetings. You will gain experience and knowledge in areas that most interest you.

What happens at a meeting?

Toastmasters meetings are entirely self run. There are no instructors or teachers Members participate by taking on different leadership roles during meetings and delivering prepared speeches.

Although all clubs have a unique feel to them, all follow a similar format. One member will serve as the Toastmaster, and host the meeting. There will usually be one or more prepared speeches that members give following the Competent Communicator manual. There may also be other parts, such as Word of the Day, Thought of the Day, or Joke of the Day. A meeting will also include an exciting round of Table Topics, where each member is given a chance to speak, giving a short answer to an impromptu topic.

Where and when are Toastmasters meetings usually held?

Meetings are usually one to two hours and usually meet once a week, once every other week, or once a month. Some meet over the lunch hour while others meet in the evenings or on weekends. Toastmasters clubs may be corporate, formed by certain companies. These are sometimes open only to people associated with those companies, although many corporate clubs are also open to the public. There are also many community clubs open to anyone over 18 years old.

All Toastmasters clubs allow you to attend meetings as a guest, to get a feel for how their meetings are run. You are encouraged to attend meetings at several clubs. Although each club follows the same basic format, all will have slight differences. It is important to find the club that is right for you. You can search for a club by going to www.toastmasters.org/findaclub .

What are the Competent Communicator and Competent Leadership manuals?

Members follow a series of ten speech projects in the Competent Communicator manual. These are self-paced. There are no schedules. You progress at a rate that is comfortable for you. Some may complete this manual in as little as a few months, while others might deliver their speeches slowly, over several years. After each speech, members receive formal written and verbal feedback from an evaluator and written/verbal comments from fellow members.

By performing roles at meetings, such as timer or toastmaster, and by participating in other club activities members work towards their Competent Leadership award. As with the Competent Communicator award there is no schedule or timeline for completion of this manual.

How do I join Toastmasters?

The first step is to visit a couple of clubs as a guest at one of their meetings. When you find the one that is right for you, ask the clubs Vice President of Education or any other club officer for a membership application. Submit this and your payment to Toastmasters International and in a couple of weeks you will receive your manuals and membership package in the mail. You will then be an official Toastmaster and well on your way to becoming the Leader and Public Speaker you want to be.

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