Monday Toastmasters Table Topics: Take Two!

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I recently rejoined Toastmasters (the CCF/TRW Toastmasters Club in Lyndhurst). Why? Like my life isn’t complicated and stressful enough?

I guess I just wanted an outlet to tone my speaking skills. I am quite rusty lately.

And of course that means I am once again having to face my ultimate fear: Table Topics.

Table Topics are 1-2 minute speeches you give in front of the club which are completely impromptu. You don’t know what your topic is until you’re up in front of thew group. Let me make this clear: I HATE Table Topics. But there was a time when I was so used to them, they no longer gave me the dry heaves (I know – TMI).

But here I am back in Toastmasters and having to face my fears once again. I gave my first Table Topics speech last week and of course it was a bit of a flop.

I’ve decided that I will face my Table Topics fear and volunteer to do it every week. AND I’ll blog about my topics here as a way to exercise: “What would I have said if I could do it over?” At first I thought I’d do it as a writing exercise, but – hey – that’s a cop-out. I must resort to video instead.

So…

HERE IS TODAY’S ~ TABLE TOPICS “TAKE TWO!”

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My Movie Review on the Toastmasters Documentary: “Speak.”

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Me and my favorite trophy.

I felt motivated this morning to make my own little video testimony and movie review inspired by the Toastmasters Documentary, “Speak.”

Toastmasters was a personal life changer for me and watching this film really brewed up my Toastmasters passions again.

I’m currently not a member, but I was a member from 2000-2008, and went from a total Social Anxiety case to winning Toastmaster of the Year TWICE in my club, and being elected Club President. Toastmasters isn’t over for me at all. Even though I am currently not a member, I feel I will ALWAYS be a toastmaster, and I know I will rejoin the organization again someday, possibly even launch my own club in an area that needs it, and an ultimate dream I have is to launch a Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program in my own community.

To read my original Toastmasters Testimony, visit my testimonial page.

If you are interested in visiting a Toastmasters club to see what a meeting is like, please visit the Toastmasters International website to search for a club in your area. I guarantee you’ll find one.

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My Toastmasters trophy collection.

My Toastmasters Testimony – Moving From “I CAN’T” to “I CAN!”

Trophy my husband MADE for me – out of paper.

I wrote this as a submission for a book of collective stories about Toastmasters. Hoping it gets in, but wanted to share it here. I’m a strong supporter of Toastmasters. Here’s why:

“I have to quit Toastmasters,” I told my boss at our one-on-one meeting.

“Why?”

“Every Wednesday morning before the meetings, I spend most of my time dry heaving in the bathroom.”

My boss explained that part of my job involved communication skills, and eventually presentation skills as well. She said I needed to stay in Toastmasters.

I had Social Anxiety Disorder. I didn’t know the name for it at that point, but that’s exactly what it was. It’s a fear of being closely watched, judged, and criticized by others. I experienced it during meetings, and way back to when I had my first oral book report in grade school. Even talking on the phone was uncomfortable.

“I CAN’T do this!” I sobbed to myself that night. “Some people can do public speaking and some people can’t. I can’t. I am NOT one of those people who can do this!”

I seriously considered quitting my job – the first good job I ever had with a decent salary and benefits. I was single, trying to live the independent life on my own, hundreds of miles away from my family.

I toughed it out for a couple more years, then went back to my boss to tell her Toastmasters still wasn’t working for me.

She asked if I had given it my best.

Oops.

Truthfully, I had done the bare minimum. I came to meetings every so often, whenever I had a club role to fill. I never served as a club officer, and only delivered four speeches out of the ten needed for my Certified Toastmaster (CTM) award.

I told my boss I’d give it one more shot – my best shot. But this time I was doing it for myself. Was it possible to get my CTM? I fantasized about giving that tenth speech. I wanted to believe I COULD DO IT.

I volunteered as a club officer, Sergeant-at-Arms, for selfish reasons. It was a way to force myself to come to every meeting, because the Sergeant-at-Arms’s main responsibility was to set up the meeting room every week.

     As an officer, I was introduced to what leadership truly is. I realized how much I loved my Toastmasters Club, and wanted it to thrive. So I volunteered to finish my CTM that year.

Heads turned in the officer group. “How many speeches do you have left?” An officer asked me.

I admitted, “Six.” There were 8 months left to complete this goal. My average up to this point was one speech every six months. I knew the other officers silently doubted I could do it, and it only fueled my passion to prove everyone, including my inner critics, wrong.

Three months passed with only one speech accomplished.

Crunch time. I now had four months to plan and present five speeches. No more procrastinating, I told myself. Are you serious about this, or what?

Yes, I answered. I am going to do this.

And I did.

In that four-month span, I grew more than ever. I realized I was brave, I learned that speaking with sincerity was a valuable gift of mine, and most surprisingly I was able to see myself as a leader.

After receiving my CTM award, I went on to earn “Toastmaster of the Year” from my club. The same thing happened the following year when I jumped in the officer ranks enthusiastically to VP of Education.

Over the next few years I continued to earn the Competent Leader Award three times, and my Advanced Communicator Bronze. And finally I found the confidence to run and serve as President of my club.

Wow. I went from a phobic Social Anxiety case to President of my Toastmasters Club within a span of four years.

It hasn’t stopped there.

I now facilitate Creative Women’s Retreats, teach creative workshops and tele-classes live, recorded audios and videotaped myself for my business purposes, and I recently launched an online radio show. The business I run is almost entirely focused on my interaction with people – something I used to avoid like the plague. Toastmasters literally changed my life!

So, wow!

I DID it!

And if there’s one thing I know, it is this… If I can do it, anyone can.

That means you, too, dear reader.

Truly.

Back in Toastmasters!

Giving my latest advanced speech to the American Greetings Toastmasters Club.

I wanted to share this Toastmasters testimonial speech I gave to my club recently. CLICK HERE or on the image above to view a link to the speech. I had been out of my club for a couple years, and have finally made the choice to rejoin to help me polish up my skills.

Toastmasters is an International organization whose mission is to help people develop communication, presentation, and leadership skills. It’s an amazing program and is one of the cheapest options out there. The reward you reap form joining far outweighs the investment!

I’ve been a member of Toastmasters since 2000, and I can honestly say that being a member of Toastmasters has changed my life. Fear of public speaking was like a prison for me. The thought of it not only petrified me, but it made me physically SICK. There are so many things I did NOT go into because of my fear of public speaking. I wish so much I had it in High School. Now with my fear gone and confidence restored, after years of development, I have the freedom of spirit to try things like teaching workshops, facilitating group retreats, conducting teleclasses, recording vocal presentations, etc.

Toastmasters has also helped me grow as a leader. I went from being scared to death of public speaking to being elected as Club President of American Greetings Toastmasters. Wow. It’s been an incredible journey of self-discovery. I find myself capable of so many wonderful things. No limitations within the self.

Toastmasters CREATED A WAY for me to pursue dreams I didn’t dare to dream in the past.

Thank you, Toastmasters!

… Another wonderful resource for support as you move toward your dreams!