An ode to Toastmaster’s…

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People always seem impressed that I go on my random trips… sleep in my car, go to hostels, blah blah blah.

But to be honest, it isn’t that big of a deal to me.

I really love to learn… and putting myself in those situations helps me do that. Even sleeping in my car, I get to listen to the conversations of passer-bys as I sit in my car. The stuff you hear in a Wal-Mart parking lot can bequite fascinating.

Actually, Eben Pagan said in the Altitude DVDs that every once in a while, he’ll just drive to the local Wal-Mart and sit in the parking lot for a few hours… just to kind of get back to “reality”. I mean, the guy runs a multi-million dollar business… he’s not exactly “normal”. And to be able to still appeal to his customer avatar, he can’t lose touch.

So anyway – I think sleeping in the car is a good thing. And constantly putting myself in new situations can only help my writing.

Because of this, not much scares me.

Except for public speaking.

I don’t know why, I think it’s because when I used to be much heavier, I hated the attention on me.

One-on-one with one or two people, I’m fine. Ask me to talk in front of a group though, and I am NOT a fan. Even in my masterminds with friends… I’ll email everyone ideas until the cows come home, but I don’t want to be talking.

So in the spirit of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I joined Toastmaster’s. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a nonprofit club where people go and learn how to publicly speak better.

Every meeting, there are 4 people who have a prepared speech. Once they deliver it, they get on-the-spot feedback from every single member, as well as an established evaluator who really goes into extra detail.

If you’re not doing a prepared speech, you have to do extemporaneous speaking. You’ll randomly be called on and have to talk, off the cuff, for a full 1-3 minutes on ANY kind of topic. You never know what’s going to be thrown at you.

I kid you not – the first time I had to do this, I had tears in my eyes. I was freaking out. I don’t think anyone knew what I was talking about. I don’t think *I* did.

Even when I got back to my seat, my hands were shaking for at least another 10 minutes.

(Side note: they say more people are afraid of public speaking than death.)

But anyway, I went back a few times…and although I’m still nervous to speak, I’m 437643x more confident than that first time.

It’s really quite awesome. I originally went there just to push my comfort level, but there are so many side benefits. Learning how to speak succinctly, improve communication, leadership, confidence…

And even though I have a love/hate relationship with it, Toastmaster’s is the best night of my week, hands down. I have more fun there than when I do belly dancing, core fusion, or even if I go out with friends. It’s just such an INCREDIBLE experience. The adrenaline that comes with doing something that scares me and conquering it… I love it.

So anyway… I have my first prepared speech next week, and I’m psyched. :)

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0 thoughts on “An ode to Toastmaster’s…”

  1. I have thought about doing this too. I know some people scoff at Toastmasters and the business world treats it like adult day care; but a lot of successful business people have done Toastmasters. It’s a great way to be pushed out of your bubble.

    At least I will keep telling myself that until I work up the courage to do it.

  2. Grr I thought I responded to these!!

    John – People there are SO supportive, you’ll have nothing to worry about. And you can always go as a guest first and decide if it’s right for you. :)

    Bruce – Props from you mean a lot, so thank you. :)

    Andrew – As you know – won Best Speech 2 out of 3 times now, YEAH!! =)

    And Justin – I MISS YOU and we need to mastermind like yesterday!

  3. Rachel,

    Toastmasters is awesome. I made myself join a long time ago because I knew I needed it… not because I wanted too.

    The days I had to speak, I would be anxious all day long. I couldn’t even eat. But it got better and I got better.

    Remember the words of Bob Dylan, “God don’t give us points for doing stuff we ain’t afraid to do.”

    Way to go.

  4. Wow that’s inspirational! I’m thinking about joining toastmaster too, but scared people going to laugh at me or just don’t understand me.

  5. Well I’m originally from a small town, Camas, straight across the Columbia River from Portland, OR. And I’ll probably be moving back there in August.

    But I’m living an hour and a half north of Seattle right now. I travel through there all the time though, shoot me an email and let me know when you’ll be there. I’ll let you know if I’ll be around.

  6. Lexie – You should do it too! Seriously, it’s SUCH a liberating feeling to conquer a fear. DO IT!! :)

    Andrew – Thank you very much for the encouragement. :) I agree with you, a prepared speech is 436x easier than the Table Topics. I’m so looking forward to it. :)

    Stephen – haha… nice. ;) Side note, I know you’re in the NW, but I forget what city. I’m going to be in Seattle in May… but you don’t live there, do you? You’re in Oregon, right? I don’t know why I forgot. Grr, I checked my PMs too, but couldn’t find it.

    Gregg – $&*# I suck! I thought nothing was respond-able when I read it the first time… turns out I haven’t learned how to read yet. ;)

    (Or maybe I just have an aversion to people from the Philly area now that I’m in L.A. :))

  7. Kudos to you, Rachel, for confronting a challenge outside your comfort zone, and conquering it.

    If you can handle Table Topics without fainting, then the prepared speech should be a piece of cake for you. Good luck on your first speech. May it be the first successful speech of many to come.

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