Do you enjoy getting up in front of others to present your work?
If you answered no, you’re perfectly normal. Public speaking is among the top things people fear.
I’m one of the few who likes giving presentations — if I am well prepared. To get prepared I practice each presentation a lot. But even when I feel prepared and even though I like presenting, I still get nervous. My mouth gets dry, and my hands start to shake.
This is an unfortunate combination, as my shaky hands keep me from taking a sip of water to give moisture to my dry mouth.
I have long wanted to become great at presenting my work, knowledge, and ideas. Recently, I found a place where I can make this happen. And hopefully, in the process, I will get so comfortable that either my hands will stop to shake or my mouth will stay moist. I don´t dare to hope for both.
The place is called Toastmasters International. At Toastmasters we practice public speaking, and we help each other become great.
Each speaker works her or his way up through the levels of public speaking. At each level, a new skill is added. After a speech, the speaker gets written feedback from the audience and both oral and written feedback from an assigned evaluator on what worked, what can be improved, and how. Even the audience learns a great deal just by listening.
The evaluations are done by regular members of the club. So in addition to giving speeches, you learn to evaluate others speeches. This is an excellent way of learning.
I believe I have found the platform where I can become skilled in the techniques of public speaking. I have a lot to learn, and I need to practice a lot. But the process will be fun. We are all there to practice and to help each other. This gives the room a positive vibe; no matter what you say, you will get a big applause.
I joined Toastmasters International in October. I have been at four meetings so far, and I gave my first speech this week. I got both my strong and weak points confirmed. I can tell a good story, but I need to work on using pauses, voice variety, and body language.
The focus of the second speech is to obtain an easy to follow structure and smooth transitions. In addition to this, I will add pauses to my speech. I will focus on voice variety and body language in later speeches, as I work my way through the levels.
Just by watching speakers at different levels and hearing their feedback, I have already learned a lot. Now I need to learn the techniques and practice them until they become second nature.
I know I will have a lot of fun in the process.
I am so excited to have found this club and to have met the great people in it that this is one of my highlights for 2017.