I am not the kind of person who is naturally comfortable speaking in front of any number of people. In fact, I have spent the majority of my life actively avoiding it. In school, I'd frequently take 0's on assignments/presentations becasue I refused to speak in front of the class.
Shortly after entering tech, I accidentally became a volunteer for Women Who Code Portland. As part of my volunteer work, I had to introduce speakers at our events and give a introduction to Women Who Code and our chapter. I was also expected to greet everyone as they came in and generally facilitate conversation. Definitely not in my comfort zone.
I figured if I was going to have to regularly speak in front of people and with strangers, I might as well learn how to do it right. I really don't like being bad at things that I have committed to doing.
With that in mind, I joined a Toastmasters club in February of 2018, and stayed a member through the end of the year. I had to leave the club when I moved and could no longer reasonably make meetings.
Jump forward a couple of COVID filled years of isolation, I rejoined Toastmasters (April 2022) to improve speaking and presenting especially in online settings.
At the end of each meeting, all attendee's vote on the best speaker, evaluator, and table topics answer of the evening. There are also several speech competitions at club/district/area/beyond levels each year.
Best Table Topics
Table Topics are questions posed to a person that must be answered immediatly. This is the on-the-fly speaking training in contrast to the prepared speeches. Each person gets a unique question and must answer by speaking for 1-2 minutes.
- 04/07/2022 | What gift have you given led to the most unexpected response?
Each meeting has three prepared speeches, and each speech has an evaluator assigned. Each evaluator gives a 2-3 minute evaluation after all the speeches on the specific one they were assigned. As evaluator it is your job to share things you think the speaker did particularly well, as well as things they can work on to improve, and things you challenge them to do next time to help the speaker grow. Evaluation is a huge part of growth and you can learn alot from evaluating others.
- 05/12/2022 | Level 4, Speech 1: The Power of Humor in an Impromptu Speech
There are many roles at each meeting, and I try to fill a role at every meeting I attend. You get out of Toastmasters what you put in, so I try hard to participate as much as possible.
04/07/2022 | Table Topic Participant
04/28/2022 | Speaker - Innovative Planning 1.1
05/05/2022 | Ah Counter
05/12/2022 | Evaluator
05/19/2022 | Grammarian
05/26/2022 | Timer
06/02/2022 | Evaluator
06/09/2022 | Toastmaster
06/16/2022 | Speaker
06/23/2022 | Speaker