October 14, 2013 at 2:36 pm #14895
If any of you were at the last follow up group which was Wednesday 2nd of October, you may recall that i spoke a little bit about Toastmaster and that I intended to try it out.
Well as promised, here is a little bit about my experience. I finally braved it on the following day Thursday 3rd october. Having looked at several of the clubs, I chose the Eblana club on Molesworth street. I must say, I was extremely anxious and I could feel the anxiety increase the closer I got to the front door.
When I did arrive, I could see people going inside in suits and ties, and this made my anxiety shoot up even more as I was , what i thought at the time , completely under dressed as I wore jeans runners and a Tee shirt. So I walked straight past the building and did a lap of the block, kind of panicking. So I waited around the corner for about 10 minutes as I was quite early.
I then walked to the front of the building again and asked a woman at the door if I was at the right place. She told I was and i eventually plucked up the courage to go inside, ooooh, big moment. Well some of my fears were relieved when I realised that I was not the only one in jeans. The dress code, as I found out later was quite casual, and it was just a preference of some people to arrive in suits or gowns, so I felt a bit at ease.
I was welcomed bu the organiser, who talked me through the whole thing, the proceedings for the night , showed me the intro package etc. I was there only as a guest, which you do not have to pay for. You can attend as many times as you like as a guest. Its only when you officially join that you have to pay the membership so there is no pressure at all.
Just to give you a brief run down of the set up.
There is a top table, which seats 3 people, the Toastmaster, the president and the topics master. facing the top table are about 5 rows of seats that would each seat about 12 people i would guess. Once it starts its all very formal and they have some routines that they carry out. Like the Toastmaster intoriduces the evening, and uses a gavel and bang on the table.
The first part of the night last about an hour, during this time, the Topics master ( this can be anybody from the club who has volunteered ) will have a list of random topics. He will offer a topic to the audience and if you wish to speak about the topic you raise your hand and you get invited to the podium which is at the front of the room to the right of the audience. You thanks the topics master and then you begin to speak.
On the other side of the room there is a time keeper (also can be anyone from the club who has volunteered) with 3 lights in front of them. Green, orange and red . The most you can speak is 3 minutes and after each minute a different colour light goes on to let you know how long you have left . The topics are completely random and there is no pressure to get up, it is entirely up to yourself. I have to say this part is quite entertaining and I really enjoyed it. I never made it to the podium, 1 step at a time I guess 🙂
there is then a break once that has finished . After the break there are official speaches. The idea of toastmasters is that you go through a programme and everybody is at a different level of the programme, so for instance , one person could be giving what is called their Ice-breaker speech, which is the first proper speech that you will do other than a topics speech. It is kind of your dedicated night that night, but you build up to it. I spoke to one girl who had been a member for almost 2 years before she got the courage to do her ice breaker speech.
There are 10 different levels of what they call Objectives, they get progressively more difficult as you go along and longer in time too. There were 3 speakers on the night I was there all at very differnet levels of competence.
The night then finished with Evaluations, so for each speaker, there will be a voulnteer to evaluate them. Also This in istelf is also an objective as you must stand at the podium for a few minutes and talk to the audience.
The entire audience also get a slip of paper to give feedback about each speaker. Then at the very end they award the best topic prize and tell us who spoke for the longest and other stuff.
overall , I must say, after my initial reluctance, to the point of almost turning around and going home, Im glad I went ahead with it and it was very worthwhile. There are some real similarities with the 14 week SAG group, its almost just on a larger scale and with some formalities and rules . The whole idea of being evaluated on your speech and the written feedback reminded me a lot of the role plays in the groups. And like I say, there is no pressure to speak, it is entirely something that you do at your own , pace. There are people who have been members for 6, 7 years and they are gradually working through the 10 objectives.
Hope this has been of some help to anyone thinking of going along. If you are, and you need some moral support or just want to have someone to go with let me know, I do intend to go again and if anyone has any questions I’d be happy to answer them as best I can.
January 9, 2014 at 4:59 pm #14921
I know you wrote this a while ago but hopefully this will reach you.
I commend you for going down and trying out toastmasters!. As an anxiety sufferer, I know how daunting even the thought of it is.
Regardless, I am hoping to do the same same after my exams. I think a presentation type setting is such as this is the most anxiety provoking situation of all for me. I feel anxiety attacks often by just sitting in the audience in events like these. As a college student I am frequently being ask to give presentations and talk in a public forum so this seems like the perfect arena to overcome some anxiety with public speaking.
I would like to know how its been since you wrote this post, did you go back? and did you speak?
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