Yesterday, I got to speak to about 30 people at work that I had never met before. I prepared 7 slides to tell them about what I did and I think it went rather well. I can attribute my increased confidence and calm directly to Toastmasters and my years of practicing there.
Later on in the evening, I attended the weekly Toastmasters meeting. I had no role in the meeting, but when I arrived, I found out both scheduled speakers had canceled. This is usually an opportunity for people to jump in, although few rarely do.
The suggestions to the club is that everybody should have a “spare speech” ready to go – one they’ve given before and can give on a moments notice.
This is not followed usually, but I saw this as another chance to get uncomfortable.
I scrolled through my old speeches and I came upon my icebreaker (the first prepared speech you give as a Toastmaster). I decided I’d give it a shot and away we went.
I didn’t win best speaker for the night, but I did check off another “scary” item from my list – giving an unprepared speech. It wasn’t bad! I would do it again.
At table topics, I blew them all away with my performance and won best Table Topics. I was pretty proud of that. The goal was to pretend to sell something to an audience. The items were randomly assigned and mostly junk. I pretended to be a frustrated QVC employee who argues with his producer named Todd and then quits in a blaze of glory on national TV. It was a lot of fun. I might like improv.
This just all goes to my mantra that you only grow when you are uncomfortable, so finding as many chances to get uncomfortable as possible, especially in this comfy life we’ve made for ourselves, is crucial. Say yes to things, speak up, volunteer. It’s the only way you get exposure to new experiences and new connections.