My first memories of getting up in front of people was in primary school when I was awarded an art prize for a bunyip I had drawn. I was presented with a book on ‘how to draw’ by a children’s book illustrator in front of the whole school. Being in 3rd grade, this was great for my self esteem and I think this memory has lived on. Since then winning a few other art or design related awards, being Vice Captain in year 12 and various University presentations gave me a taste for the crowd.
Then it came to BNI (Business Network International) a meeting I attended almost 10 years ago. Over the 5 years I attended, on a weekly basis we had to get up and present to other businesses, selling our products and services. From here, my spark of speaking was rekindled and I learned how important it was to my business to be able to speak and present to business, as you created opportunities for business in real time. It was at BNI where I found out about Toastmasters which I had considered joining, but having a busy young family made it hard to find the time.
My decision came to a head when I decided to start presenting via video for my business as part of a larger business strategy. I wanted to be able to express myself on camera naturally and felt that I had a lot to learn so I decided to go to Toastmasters to get more practice speaking in front of people.
It’s funny how contradicting that sounds, to speak naturally in front of people; you need to get a lot of practice speaking in front of people. I find that my Toastmasters membership gives me the space to get that practice. When you think about it there are not that many places where this can happen.
I’ve now been in Toastmasters for just on 6 months now and overall, I love the opportunity to get up and speak about my business; it’s why I attend as it is giving me the opportunity to hone this skill set. But what I really like the most is Table Topics. Table Topics is where you get asked a random question and you need to get up and speak 1 to 2 minutes on the subject. I love this as it tests your creativity, giving me the opportunity to think on the spot and to weave an interesting speech from something you literally had no idea that you were going to speak about.
As mentioned in my introduction, to be creative you need to be comfortable with your vulnerability, so Toastmasters gives you a space where this can happen, Table Topics does this and I love that.
In business I am using my experience with Toastmasters to help me develop my speaking skills on camera, in podcasts and in business meetings or presentations. Since starting Toastmasters 6 months ago I have done 8 videos, have been a guest on 3 podcasts (here’s my first) and have participated in many business presentations.
Looking back I have noticed my continuous improvement where I am feeling more natural in these environments. My natural personality is now beginning to come across on camera which was my initial goal.
Personally, I am feeling more confident around speaking and am implementing some of these ideas with my kids through play, so my kids start to take on these traits helping them with their lifelong interpersonal skills.
If you have been thinking of also gaining confidence around presenting, don’t fear the failure of giving Toastmasters a go. Toastmasters International gives you a community of like-minded people who are there to support your growth in the area of public speaking. The members have already been through various stages of growth and hence will understand any stage you are at, so you can feel at ease and comfortable to give it a red hot go.
Toastmasters has an initial introductory module of 10 presentation projects which you can work on at your own pace, known as the Competent Communicator (CC) Manual. Since joining in late June, I have almost completed the manual which works out to approx one presentation a fortnight.
I think I have done this reasonably quickly because I have a practical goal to improve my speaking for my online video blogs, pod cast opportunities and business presentations. This has given me the motivation to do one project per fortnight so I can directly apply the knowledge and practice into my next video, pod cast or business opportunities. There is nothing like a real world application to keep you motivated.
For more information on Toastmasters, check out the local chapter I go to known as Fast Track Toastmasters.
psyborg® was founded by Daniel Borg, an Honours Graduate in Design from the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Daniel also has an Associate Diploma in Industrial Engineering and has experience from within the Engineering & Advertising Industries.
Daniel has completed over 2000 design projects consisting of branding, illustration, web design, and printed projects since psyborg® was first founded. psyborg® is located in Lake Macquarie, Newcastle but services business Nation wide.
I really do enjoy getting feedback so please let me know your thoughts on this or any of my articles in the comments field or on social media below.