Picture: Toastmaster’s Introductory meeting for “Return To Words” club charter, February 2014
This week I did my first Toastmaster’s speech… and I was scared speechless… For someone who has gotten up in front of groups for years to educate, share, and be a leader, you would think that I would not get nervous – right?
Some people look so poised and comfortable up on a stage or in front of a group. I have a hard time imagining that they have butterflies in their stomachs but I am sure that the majority of them do. Haven’t most of us heard at one time or another that a little nervousness is healthy when getting up in front of a group… it helps us be on our game?
The reason I decided to pursue having a Toastmasters club at our company this year was because I knew that it would help develop skills in formal speaking for all of us but I would have never anticipated the other results that I have seen in a few short weeks. I am seeing new leaders emerge and I am learning things about people I have worked with for over a decade. I am learning what interests them outside of the workplace… I am learning who they are versus what they do…
The other reason I started the conversation about having a Toastmasters at work was because I knew that I could improve my speaking skills to better serve my audiences. I think out loud which can be very disjointed for my audience when my mind doesn’t stay on one track, which happens often (as those I spend a lot of time with can fully attest to). Being a better speaker became more of a goal for me after I had done a little 360 exercise a few months ago where I asked people who know me well to share what they saw as my strengths and what “careers” they thought would be a good fit for me (even though I am fast approaching my sixties). The answers I received back on this little survey as potentially good career fits were: Leader (which I am), Coach (which I am) and Motivational Speaker… MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER??? ME?? That came as a complete surprise to me until I realized when I am absolutely passionate about something the words just flow… naturally…
So as I stood up in front of my audience for my Icebreaker speech, I put my scared self in the back of the room and brought up my engaging self… the self that I knew people liked to hear from… and you know what… I did pretty okay for the first formal “speech” (versus business presentations) that I have done in many years!
Will I still get a little nervous at times? Probably. Will I flub up on pronouncing words or not use them in the best context at times? Most likely. Will I have too many ums or ahhs or “filler words” in the future? I am sure I will.
Will I become a stronger speaker? I guarantee it!
Do you get nervous speaking in front of an audience? If so, what it your “go to” strategy to help relax those jitters?