The Shyness Project

Grammarian / Wizard of Ahs

Last night at Toastmasters I came in without a role for the first time.  I had missed the previous two sessions of Toastmasters since I was away on vacation in Santa Barbara.  I was a little more hesitant about attending than usual because I thought if I didn’t have a role I would for sure be picked for impromptu speaking with Table Topics.  Nervous thoughts floated in my head about not going, and my dad was busy working on a presentation for work so we could have stayed home.  I read some of my blog comments though and decided that avoiding it was not an option for me.  My promise to myself was to feel the fear and do it anyway, and I didn’t want to let myself down.

We arrived at the meeting and they needed someone to be a Grammarian to listen out for ahs, ums, and sos, so I offered to do that when no one else volunteered.  I’d never done that role before but I knew that I would have to keep alert for it to catch anything like that. Usually it is rare and difficult to hear more than a couple of ums.

Being the grammarian helped me focus on my listening skills, and I did catch an um, uh, and so.  I really did have to listen carefully because they were very faint and wouldn’t be noticed unless you were looking out for them.

I did not get picked for Table Topics, to my surprise.  This was kind of good because I was sitting near the back for once (I always sit near the front) and this made it harder for me to want to go up to the podium.  The further back I am, the bigger the room seems, and the more I want to stay to myself.  Not having gone to a meeting in two weeks also made me realize how helpful it is to go each week. It keeps you in the right mind set and fills you with momentum.  My mind was going blank on the table topics as I listened to the introductions, and I don’t know what I would have said if I had been chosen.  I’ve only done table topics twice so I suppose the more I do it the more I’ll get comfortable with it.  The impromptu speaking segment still makes my heart race.

Near the end of the meeting Chole brought up the idea of starting a mentorship program within the club.  She went around the room and asked each of us to say what we thought our strength was in Toastmasters that we might be able to help someone else with.  Initially I didn’t quite think I couldn’t think of any strengths in Toastmasters that I could help anyone with, but as I had more time to think about it I thought of something I could say.  Many of the others also felt like they didn’t really have a certain strength until someone brought up some ideas of what they thought their strengths were.  Some of them said they are really good at being the Toastmaster, others the Table Topics Master, or are good at adding humor to their speeches, etc.  I said that I’m fairly new, but I think writing is one of my strengths.  I’m able to brainstorm ideas fairly quickly for speeches and then once I start writing them out the speech just flows.  Windy joked that she wants me to write her speeches then, which made us all laugh.  Chole said being able to brainstorm ideas like that is quite valuable and is something that could definitely help someone.

At the end they assigned roles for next week.  I thought of volunteering for Speaker #2, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to have the time to practice my speech enough before Wednesday.  I finished writing it yesterday.  I told Larry I’d email him if I thought I could do it though.  I think I can, I just don’t want to put added pressure on myself if I feel like I’m not ready.  I’m starting my first semester of college next week and that is already a lot of stress for me.  I still am not all that familiar with how to get to each of the two colleges I’m taking classes at, and have hardly driven on the highway before (and never by myself).  I’m hoping to practice this weekend though so I’ll be feeling a little more prepared by Monday.  (*Update: I emailed Larry a few hours ago and told him I would give the speech on Wednesday!  I practiced a lot today and I am feeling more prepared.)

*Psst: Here’s a link to the Toastmasters website:

It has some good info on there about public speaking and about Toastmasters.  There is also a Q&A that I just read about a guy who said he is shy and introverted and how Toastmasters has helped him.

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14 thoughts on “Grammarian / Wizard of Ahs

  1. This is amazing! It’s breathtaking that you have turned round and faced huge fears head-on like this, and giving a speech must be one of the big things for most of us!

    I know -what does Susan Jeffers say in Feel The Fear? – that “you’ll handle it” 🙂

    • Haha thanks Kate! I’m a lot better at recognizing when I’m trying to make excuses and avoid things now than I was before. When I catch myself doing this, I try to make myself do what I’m thinking of avoiding. 🙂 That way I’ll realize that what I was avoiding isn’t as bad as I thought, and hopefully I will become less worried about it. Public speaking is definitely nerve-racking for most of us! At least I know I’m definitely not alone in this one!

      Lol I like it! Thanks for writing Kate! 🙂

  2. It’s a great challenge.It’s important that you experience speaking in front of people many times.
    Every one will get used to it.
    Good luck.:)

    • Thanks cocomino, it’s probably the biggest one I’ve taken on! Public speaking is really interesting though, and I’m starting to read more books on it. You’re exactly right, the more you practice, the more comfortable you become with it. Thanks for writing! 🙂

  3. Wonderfully creative title, young lady!n I’m glad things are going so well for you these days!

  4. Interesting reading your blog and your challenges. My youngest daughter loves to write and originally started college as an English major. I thought she would have been an excellent English teacher but when she found out that almost half of her classes were speech classes she dropped her English major because she doesn’t like giving speeches.

    You will have many more opportunities open for you by facing your fears. Good for you! Jeanne

    • Thanks for reading Jeanne! I have had similar thoughts to your daughter before about classes that required a lot of public speaking. The word “presentation” always made me nervous and made me avoid some classes that I probably would have otherwise enjoyed. Funny how today in one of my classes seeing the word on one of my syllabuses didn’t even really phase me so much. I imagine I will get more nervous when I actually have to do it, but I feel a little more comfortable with it now.

      Thanks for writing Jeanne! 🙂

  5. Nice post! Without doubt, every role in every (Toastmasters) meeting is a challenge. Challenge yourself more, and you’ll grow faster. Keep going!

  6. So many things going on at once and you are batting the excuses away and facing them all.

    I do remember that rather sickly feeling when you know you will have to spew forth wit and intelligence publicly at any moment and your mind is racing around trying to connect to the witty and intelligent information section in your noggin and nothings coming back!

    The good thing is that this stops happening after you keep throwing yourself into the cauldron again and again, so well done.

    • Thanks! You’re right, the more I keep putting myself out there with this, the easier it will get. I’m glad you can relate to the feeling of having to think and speak quickly before a group. It’s hard when your mind is racing and you feel like you’re blanking. Thanks for writing! 🙂

  7. Awesome Brittany!
    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your experiences. You Definitely have some real strength as a writer. I’m glad you realized it.
    Good luck with college next week!

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