I am a member of Toastmasters International. Why? As an author, it provides me with the tools to present my stories to the public. It provides a feedback forum on my interpersonal skills, communication skills and yes, even my writing skills, because I convert my written speech to verbal.
In Toastmasters we learn leadership and management skills, which all authors should strive to learn to manage their own affairs. It teaches us time management and research. We have a section of the meeting called Table Topic’s which allows people to think quickly and creatively to provide a response to a question not known in advance.
One of my favorite sections is called Observational Humor. We take what members say or do and make fun of it. Some of my blog posts are directly related to learning this skill of observation.
We have a grammarian who listens to our speech and tells us if we are grammatically correct. This has definitely helped me. We have evaluators of the meeting and of each speech. The evaluation section is similar to a reader’s review. Without evaluation none of us can improve. Giving a speech and receiving positive feedback helps develops confidence. All in all, Toastmasters will enrich your life.
Now let me tell you what has happened to me since joining. I have made speeches on my stories and piqued interest in many of the members. I have won speech contests and moved from area contests to district contests. If you keep winning, you move to regional and then the international speech contest. Contest winners appear on Toastmasters’ website and in international publications. Each time you enter a contest you are interviewed by the contest Toastmaster. You supply a brief outline of yourself and your interests. Every time I have been interviewed I have 20-30 seconds to talk about my story. Almost every time, someone in the audience has asked me about my books. I have made sales, but most importantly, my name is spreading.
You owe it to yourself to experience all that Toastmasters has to offer. But you must participate and set aside your fears because every speaker who steps up to a podium or stage has this same fear. But you know what? Audiences love speakers and the stories they tell. Most of all you gain knowledge of the people and world around you, and that provides plenty of reasons to write about.
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