Last week I visited a local club:
…and this week I joined.
If you aren’t familiar with Toastmasters, it’s an international organization dedicated to learning and practicing public speaking, communication, and leadership skills in a friendly environment. Each club has its own personality — some can be fairly stiff — but the one I joined prides itself on being fun and diverse.
The idea of setting time aside each week to practice public speaking may sound a little terrifying to most people, and it’s moderately terrifying to me as well, but my observation is that it works. And it’s really not that scary, after all — I walked into my first meeting expecting a bunch of flawless speakers who eat this stuff up, but to my relief, what I found was friendly, funny people of varying ages and skill. It’s low-pressure and self-paced.
As a new member, tonight I was baptized with the honor of answering one of the questions that get tossed around for practice at impromptu speaking. The topic was ‘movies that you relate to.’ I’m no movie buff, and I couldn’t tell you more than 70% of a movie’s plot points the day after I watch it, so I had to turn to one of maybe two movies that I know well enough to develop a coherent statement thereon. While I perhaps should have chosen Office Space, I forgot that one in the moment and was left to explain how my life relates to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Ponder that.
So anyway, wish me luck! I’m actually giving up one of my two weekly spinning classes to try this, which makes me sad, but this was the most convenient time and location of any of the local clubs. I just prepaid six months of dues, so if I’m not enjoying it in six months, I can always go back to my old routine. But I don’t think that will be the case. I may never achieve Toastess With the Mostest status, but I bet I will at least reach Buttered Side Up.
(I have no idea what I just said there, but I felt the moment called for something punny.)