Written by Michael Worsfold Most people join Toastmasters to gain confidence and skill in speaking. Maybe they’ve got some speaking event coming up or a project they want to lead. Some join for the community.… More
Contributed by Michael Worsfold
When I joined Toastmasters in 2014, I was a retired management consultant, still doing coaching, mostly with business people. My motivation for joining was to expand my local community and grow my ability to speak about my coaching work in public. I used my speeches to clarify my thinking and practice communicating parts of what I was doing. I also learned to get out of my comfort zone by doing humorous speeches and learning to tell stories.
I never expected that five years later Toastmasters would be the incubator for a new venture I call The New Retirement Project.
The New Retirement Project and the New Retirement blog are about exploring new perspectives and new strategies for well-being in retirement; finding order, meaning, purpose and adventure.
Read more about the project in an eight-part series beginning here.
Toastmasters are always improving their craft. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes wonder ‘what was I thinking’ when we committed to giving a particular speech. Especially when it’s the night before and we’re panicking and hitting a wall.
Maybe it’s not coming together and we’re worried we’ll look like idiots.
Or maybe it’s the wrong topic that has us in a panic.
Maybe it’s just not quite the right fit. Recently, someone had one speech ready and then when the moment came, she felt inspired, and delivered a completely different speech that what she’d planned.
What if it’s about taking a bigger risk and stepping on to a new learning edge? What if feeling unprepared just means the process for creating speeches has changed from the first moment we stand behind the lectern and deliver (or read!) our Icebreaker speech?
This idea was brought home to me in my recent experience giving a speech about the Wall, the Wobble, and the Wilderness..
And one other W too. You can read more about it here.
The General Evaluator recently remarked on my “uhms” and “ahs” and “sos.”
Damn. Me! A Morningstar for nine years. I should know better.
I thought I had un-uhm-ed myself. I thought I had licked those waffle words right out of my mouth. But bad habits have crept back into my speechcraft. Which reminds me what Toastmasters is all about—it’s a training.
Every Wednesday morning we show up in training mode. It’s built into the ethos of the program that we can always improve. We should never allow ourselves to think we’ve mastered the art of public speaking.
To quote Mick Jagger, “I can’t get no satisfaction,” and that’s okay, even if my speech evaluations are causing me my 19th Nervous Breakdown.
Speaking of the Rolling Stones, I joined Toastmasters in part because I aspired to strut the stage like Jagger. (I’m not kidding.) It was never going to happen, of course, but speaking on a stage seemed like a do-able option. I quickly forgot about rock stardom, because the speakers I heard blew me away.
One of the biggest challenges I discovered was weeding out those weed-words. The very ones that have crept back into my presentations. It makes me wonder if I’ve been coasting on my laurels (CC. CL, ACB. ALB). Am I guilty of treating Morningstars as a social club and not the training program it’s meant to be?
Have I forgotten that improvement is the name of the game?
Come to think of it—many rock stars could benefit from a visit to Morningstars.
Rock stars are always mumbling. For the longest time I thought the Beatles were singing: “I want to hold your ham.” And the Eurhymics were saying: “Sweet dreams are made of cheese.”
And for sure Dylan’s famous song went: “The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind.” And what group was it who sang: “Hey, you, get off of my cow…”?
If you see a rock star before next Wednesday, invite them to our meeting.
In the meantime, I’ll be working on un-ah-ing myself.