Public Speaking by Participation

Efficient communication is an important leadership skill. This applies to writing (incl presentations), speaking and… public speaking. (Listening is perhaps even more important, but that’s another story.)

Public speaking is dreaded by the majority of us. But there are some who simply love it. Usually it’s about practice, about reaching a moment when you feel the public responds to your words, to the meaning you convey in those words, your arguments, your stories. There are tools you can master – e.g. vocal variety, body language, props. There are aspects you can polish all your life. This can be fun! Unfortunately, you won’t learn that by reading books. As with leadership, when speaking in public, confidence is key. To gain confidence, you have to take the plunge.

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Joining Toastmasters was one of the best decisions in my life. I know there are several organizations like this, but the bottom line is – it has to be learning by participation. The usual case is this – if we want to learn, we grab a book or enroll on a lecture-type course. But with many practical skills, it simply doesn’t work. Remember the saying?

Tell me, and I’ll forget.
Show me, and I may [not] remember.
Involve me, and I’ll understand.

If one wants to learn speaking in public, he or she should… speak in public. And the audience better be friendly and supportive. 

That’s were Toastmasters helps.

By the way, while preparing meetings, members practice general leadership and management skills. The same happens when one becomes a club officer. It does take time, but I do believe it’s invaluable.