I recently witnessed a speech given by a speaker (who's name I have forgotten) on a subject that I really have very little interest in, but the speech was delivered in such a way that I felt compelled to listen and actually ended up enjoying said speech. I approached the speaker following his performance to congratulate him and enquire where he learnt to talk in such an entertaining and professional way, 'Toastmasters' he told me, what is or are Toastmasters I replied?
Toastmasters are an organisation with clubs that meet in hundreds of towns and city's around the world, members learn the art of public speaking by talking to groups and working with others in a supportive environment. A typical Toastmasters club is made up of 30 to 40 people who meet once a week for about 2 hours. Each meeting gives everyone an opportunity to practice the art of public speaking, you get feedback from many of the people that have listened to you speak on ways to improve next time, you are never rubbished or criticised, all feedback is constructive. Experience of members varies from the professional to the person that gets up for the first time and just freezes at the thought of speaking in public for the first time.
Yes I am sure you have guessed by now, I have joined Toastmasters and what an enjoyable experience it is, I have attended 2 meetings and made a short speech at both meetings, these mini speeches are called 'table topics', your name is called you stand in front of your audience you are given a topic to talk about for around 2 minutes, you get 30 seconds to think about what you are going to say and then you say your piece. This may sound daunting but it is not, it is challenging is perhaps a better description, but not a problem because of the supportive environment that you are in.
I am now in the process of writing my first pre-prepared speech which I hope to give in a bout 1 months time. The club I have joined is Grosvenor Square Speakers and they have a dedicated website with reports on the meetings recent speakers.