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I Doin da Laintlee Toatmatturs!

Jul 6th, 2006 | By | Category: Personal Stories, Public Speaking

That’s right, I joined the Raintree Toastmasters!

(Before I get into the actual post … allow me to gloat … I’m starting this post at 11:20PM … from Office! I feel so hard-working)

So, a month ago I joined the Toastmasters club at AKLTG – Raintree Toastmasters

For those of you who don’t know what Toastmasters is … where do you live? Seriously!

Toastmasters is a system … where you have small clubs of people … who practice public speaking. They meet every 1-4 weeks, give prepared speeches to each other, give each other feedback, talk about off-the-cuff topics and generally get rid of any fears of public speaking they may have had (well, that’s my goal anyway).

It’s really a worldwide organization … with millions of people doing Toastmasters speeches. To manage this huge thing, they break it up into small groups (each “club” is about 15-40 people strong).

So anyway, this month I was formally inducted into the club. These days everything is so casual … I kinda enjoy the formal ceremonies that happen in this club – starting of meetings, referring to each other as Mr Speaker or Ms Table Topics Master (or should it be Mistress) or Mr Toastmaster.

And then … I decided to take the plunge. Ramesh (the awesome speaker who leads this group), asked the new members to take up leadership positions. I originally wanted to go after VP of Public Relations (It seemed like a very cool job … very much like what I did), but someone special had already booked that =). So, I took up the even bigger job – VP of Education.

The VP of Education is basically the 2nd in command in any toastmasters club. It’s their job to plan out the next 2-3 meetings, call up people and make sure all the speaking slots are full, call up evaluators from other clubs to make sure they come to critique and generally make sure everything else works so that the president has some breathing room.

They went through a pretty ancient (but interesting) process of nominating, seconding and selecting the new executive committee.

The minute I sat down, I started feeling sick. There were butterflies in my stomach. I was getting buyer’s remorse – you know … the kind where you just buy something, and then immediately want to return it coz you feel like you bought too much? I certainly felt like I took on too much.

I had just gotten my office … and started hiring. I was getting my social life back in order, making new friends. I just started to work on my first book. Did I really need to take up a leadership position here … instead of sitting back and just practicing my public speaking?

I think I kind of did. For a few reasons. First, I’m now tied in … being a leader of this group … I have to lead by example. Which means, I have to start giving my speeches quick … and get my Competent Toastmasters Title soon.

Second, people here respect me. I mean, I know people everywhere think I’m young and smart and fun (real humble, ain’t I?) … but here people actually think that I’m young, and super smart and real fun and very enthusiastic. And although I sometimes feel wierd about always jumping up with answers to questions everyone knows about … when people look at me with respect in their eyes … lemme tell you, I feel worth something.

Over the last few months, I’ve slowly weaned myself off getting judged by myself and others … so it doesn’t make an enormous difference to me what anyone thinks of me … but a little encouragement sure as hell feels good!

Anyway back to the story, third thing (There has to be a third … I mean well made points don’t sound good unless they’re made in groups of three :) ). This is going to be really good for me. I mean, I know its going to cut into my schedule … and there’s a whole lot of beaurocracy I may have to deal with. But this is a really powerful position. Managing this stuff will be really valuable practice for managing my business. Networking with hundreds of other toastmasters will be a great way to make new friends (and meet new business prospects). And speaking and getting rid of my social fears will definitely help all aspects of my social life … (and take me closer to finding the Princess Jasmine for this Aladdin :D ).

So, a job well done. Even though I will have the (often) butterflies in my tummy … I think I’ve made a great decision. I hope some of you who read this blog will also take a jump … and do something to commit yourself to getting better. And if you wanna join toastmasters … you know where to find me :)

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