I recently joined my company’s Toastmasters Club.
Do you know what Toastmasters is? It’s s supportive group, which helps individuals work on leadership and communication skills.
I am an outgoing and friendly person. I am comfortable meeting new people. And I am confident in most social situations. But I have a paralyzing fear when talking in front of a group.
My heart starts racing, I get nervous, I get super warm and a little flustered. My mouth gets dry. I get tunnel vision. I can’t wait until I am no longer in the “spot light.”
I joined Toastmasters to help me with my communication skills. To become more comfortable speaking in front of others. To help focus those jitters on something else. To help me prepare for a training I have to do later this year.
There are many roles individuals can take on with Toastmasters.
Yesterday, I took on my very first role as General Evaluator. The General Evaluator evaluates the whole meeting.
According to the Toastmasters website, the General Evaluator gets the chance to practice and improve skills in critical thinking, planning, preparation and organization, time management, motivation and team building.
I was nervous. But if you know me, I planned and researched my role ahead of time. I created a checklist and I took notes throughout the meeting. I made sure to take notes on everyone who presented and also gave some general comments, such as an agenda days before the meeting would be beneficial.
I have a Toastmaster mentor whom I have met with twice. The second time it was one-on-one and he gave me some great advice, assured me that I can do this and really encouraged me.
Before and after my evaluation my mentor gave me tons of praise and even talked about me during the meeting and that I had already used my skills and his advice to give my toast/speech at my boss’ farewell retirement party.
Plain and simple that was awesome and gave me a great boost.
One of the greatest things about Toastmasters is how supportive it is and not negative. Yes, you get feedback, but always in a constructive and positive manner. Every time someone goes to the podium or stands up to talk they get an applause. When the word of the day is used everyone applauds.
Soon I will have to give my first speech, the Ice Breaker. The Ice Breaker is all about me (or you–however you read this). I am going to work with a fellow Toastmaster to prepare for our Ice Breakers together as he is probably even more nervous than I am.
I will check in again with an update on how that speech goes when I give it.