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: http://www.toastmasters.org/
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.