So I’m joining the toastmasters public speaking club. Below are some impressions following my first meeting.
I was surprised at how much unprepared speaking there was. The breakdown is about 50/50 between prepared and extemporaneous sessions. When I think of public speaking, I typically imagine “speeches”, with cue cards and expressive keeners boring the class to sleep about volcanoes or something.
Here, the main event is the random selection portion.
Topic: your favorite season. Sally? Could you come up? 2-4 minutes.
Topic: your favorite sport and why. Aaron? Kindly take your turn.
Topic: what you think of Toastmasters. Marty?
Marty, as it happens, thought he would trash Toastmasters with his little impromptu; it was something to behold.
His basic point was that people don’t show up or participate enough and he snarked about how that gave him more opportunities to practice his own craft. Not a terrible message, really, but he used lots of words like “failure” and “shame” and “wasting your time and money” in a very aggressive manner. It was, frankly, rather unpleasant. But he was the best speaker of the night.
There are a few other quirks, too. For instance, there’s an official “grammarian” who counts peoples’ ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ and, at the end of the night, stands up and lists off each presenter’s transgressions. It’s quite a list.
Most of the participants are ESL-types, which isn’t terribly surprising, but there are more women than I was expecting.
At least, with this blog, I have a lot of material that I’ve written down that I can use for speeches. That’s no accident, by the way.