My Speech Laboratory

I lacked confidence in the past. No, there was not even a hint of confidence I guess. But I am thankful that transformation happens. From a shy and reserved person, I grew in confidence and competence through the years. It took a long time. It was not an overnight change. But that better change happened.

One of the side benefits of growing in confidence and competence in my communication skills is me winning 2nd Runner Up in the 2016 District 75 International Speech Contest in Toastmasters.

chris2up

There were a lot of factors that contributed to this growth. People. Events. Organizations. And a whole lot more. But today, let me share with one – which I call my ‘speech laboratory.’

I have come to know about this ‘speech laboratory’ when I visited IAME & Associates Toastmasters Club in Makati City sometime in 2010. This club is one of the 15,400 clubs that make up the global network of Toastmasters International with meeting locations in 135 countries. In the Philippines (District 75), there are 170+ clubs distributed in the 11 different divisions across the archipelago.

On my second visit to the club, I became a member. On my third visit, I delivered my very first prepared speech in Toastmasters. And since then, I kept coming back, delivering speeches, and receiving constructive feedback. It was a very rewarding experience.

When I moved back here in Baguio last year, I immediately found a home in Pines City Toastmasters Club. Just like the first club that I joined, the people there are so friendly, supportive, and they share the same passion of improving themselves.

Months later, I came to know them better. And as I come to know them better, I also see that we are growing better in our communication and leadership skills. I am so happy being around them. Their passion to learn and improve their public speaking skills is contagious. My Fridays (1st, 3rd, 5th of the month) with them are packed with fun-filled learning.

Yes, this is my speech laboratory. We don’t have a professor lecturing but ‘learning professors’ fill the room. Our sessions which we call Toastmasters meetings are learn-by-doing workshops where you get to deliver your speeches and get evaluated in terms of content, organization and delivery. Toastmasters get to follow a series of communication and leadership programs developed by this 90+ year-old global organization. As a member, you will be receiving manuals and magazines straight from the World Headquarters in California. You can also visit any Toastmasters Clubs around.

Because of this, my ‘speech laboratory’ is not limited to my club. In Baguio alone, I have been attending three other clubs where I get to practice my speeches and evaluate other speakers as well. Whenever I’m in town and not doing training somewhere, I would also attend Baguio Ecozone Toastmasters Club on Mondays, Baguio Funshine Toastmasters Club on Thursdays, and Synergy Toastmasters Club on Wednesdays and Fridays. Meetings on these weeknights have been helping me maximize my membership in Toastmasters and hopefully been helping other members in their learning, too. In Toastmasters, we support each other, learn from each other, and grow together.

In Toastmasters, I have found a ‘speech laboratory’ where it is safe to fail and learn from the experience.

If you want to improve your communication or public speaking skills, I invite you to visit any of the Toastmasters Clubs near your location.

 

Communication or public speaking skills are not taught, they are learned. Yes, attend seminars and read books about it, but find avenues to practice it. While I conduct seminars and workshops on public speaking, I would always point to ‘speech laboratories’ where one can further their learning and practice.

You need a ‘speech laboratory.’

In Toastmasters, I found mine.

You may want to try it, too.

 

Live your life, young mind!

Chris Dao-anis

PS: If you’re in Baguio City, you can visit our club – Pines City Toastmasters Club. For more info, visit our club website at www.pinescity.toastmastersclubs.org or email vppr-7739@toastmastersclubs.org

 

(Chris Dao-anis aims to empower his fellow young minds with practical instruction and inspiration in the fields of communication and personal leadership. He authored three books to date: The Gift of the Ordinary, 7 Keys to Achieve Your Aspirations, and the soon-to-be-launched Living Large in the Little Things. For talks, seminars and speech coaching, email him at chrisdaoanis@gmail.com. You can order his latest book at a specially discounted price at www.chrispoweracademy.com/livinglarge. You are also invited to the FREE Living Large Seminar & Book Launch in Baguio City on Sep 10. Register today at www.chrispoweracademy.com/lls.)

You are invited to the

Advertisements

The Reluctant Leader

“The table is now open for nominations for president… Any nominations for president?”

Someone stood up and said, “I nominate Chris Dao-anis for president.” I was shocked!

Why are they – juniors and seniors – nominating me – a freshman to be their president?

I was even flabbergasted as one stood up and said, “I move to close the nominations.” Before someone seconds the motion, I raised my hand in objection!

Have you ever been nominated for a position and you objected?

The presiding chair recognized me and gave me the floor to speak. While choking with words, I told the group, “I suggest that we select a president who is more experienced, more senior and more capable to lead the group.”

I am thankful that I was not a Toastmaster then. I would have delivered a 30-minute privilege speech to support my objection but that would have probably achieved the opposite purpose.

I was grasping for words and gasping for breath. For an unknown reason, I could not understand why I almost cried while saying my objection. So as not to be embarrassed of my teary eyes, I rushed outside.

As I was walking out, I heard someone said, “You are that person you just described. You are capable of leading the group.” But I brushed it off and proceeded outside. The election concluded without me in the roster.

I was in first year high school then. And I was a reluctant leader. But I didn’t know that something in me has sparked that night.

Have you ever come to a realization that in a seemingly ordinary event in your life, something extraordinary is going on?

I attended school as a normal student who participated in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. My teacher had no choice but to ask me to participate in Math and Science competitions. Being the obedient boy that I am (ahem), I had to say yes. My teacher also asked me to write for the campus paper and I did.

After a year, I have seen the normal and abnormal happenings in the campus that stirred my young heart. No, I’m not talking about my campus crush. I’m talking about my desire to lead and serve the student body.

Have you ever had a sudden change in perspective and actuations in life?

As a sophomore, I got elected as Press Relations Officer of the student council. Before the year ended, the school paper adviser assigned me to be the “acting editor-in-charge.” And in that student group where I first declined the presidency, I became the president.

As a junior, I joined the Cadet Officer Leadership Training. And in the school paper, I was finally designated as the editor-in-chief.

As a senior, I led my batch as the Corps Commander of the CAT class, still the editor-in-chief, and seemingly a student adviser in my first student group.

Looking back, I was laughing at that reluctant leader who eventually held various leadership roles. During those years, I rallied the students to new activities. We organized battle of the bands, sports fests, and other big gatherings.

While it is overflowing with challenges, those years were filled with fun and fulfilling moments.

In college, I served as the President of the Federation of Kibungan Students and of the Junior Accountants in our Chapter, and became a section editor in our University paper. At work, I last served as a Supervisor in a multinational company before I left last year. In Toastmasters, I have served as Sergeant-at-Arms, VP PR, Club President, and Area Governor.

IMG_3788

It dawned on me that that reluctant leader fifteen years ago has become a leader in numerous times in different groups in different settings. At times, I would still decline a leadership role just like when I declined to become the Assistant Division Governor for Marketing two years ago. I also have declined to become the Division K Director supposedly for this Toastmaster year. But when I see it fitting, I would rise up to the challenge to lead.

I realized that within a reluctant leader is a potential leader. But only when that person allows him or herself to lead that this leadership potential will be pushed out to propagate the precious potentials of people through powerful plans and programs while punching away problems coming in the way.

You see, at a certain level, I still am a reluctant leader. I don’t know if you are reluctant leader.

But have you allowed yourself to lead? Will you allow yourself to lead?

 

Live your dreams with love,

Chris Dao-anis

 

PS: Did you like what you read above? Share it to your friends.

How Toastmasters Transformed Me In Two Ways

In the recent past, I was not comfortable telling people that I am a Toastmaster. I didn’t want them to know. Why? Because I feared that I may dent the prestigious image of Toastmasters International. I was afraid that when I start saying that I am a member of this leading authority in public speaking, I would pin myself into a dartboard of mockery and pity. I was terrified that I would be toasted with critics and judgments.

I thought that people will say something like this: “What?! That guy claims to be a Toastmaster? He does not even know how to say a toast or introduce himself properly. Perhaps, what he mastered is to put a piece of bread in an oven toaster!”

Let me confess – I am not good in toasting bread either. That’s for an obvious reason. Toastmasters is not about toasting bread. Believe me – some people have those misconceptions the first time they heard Toastmasters. I know because I was one of them.

There is another misconception that I had. I thought that Toastmasters is only for the elite public speaking. I thought that only the eloquent speakers are qualified.

But thanks to this thing called “courage and adventurous spirit” – I visited a Toastmasters Club in Makati. I was alone when I visited IAME & Associates Toastmasters Club that Saturday evening in 2010. I was shocked because the moment I stepped into the room, I saw weirdness. There were two or three people who stood up and with their full smiles, they meet me and extended their hand. That was weird. I told myself, “I am not a guest speaker, am I? Why are they treating me like one?” But believe me, their weirdness was infectious. I smiled back at them and extended my hand, too.

There’s one more weird thing – they were like high in drugs. Why are they happy and enthusiastic? Believe me – they applauded loudly when the president tapped that table with the gavel. I didn’t know that was worth applauding. But I can’t help it, their weirdness was infectious. I clapped at the gavel too – I mean to the fact the meeting started. But after a couple of hours, I was shocked when the president was called and tapped again the table with the gavel and everyone again applauded. That was weird. I told myself, “If they clapped a while back because the meeting started, why are they clapping now when it ended. Isn’t that odd? Or are they just happy because the table was tapped with a gavel?”

I don’t know. I am sorry for the spoilers but you’ll get to know more about the weirdness of Toastmasters when you visit a club meeting. If you are not a Toastmaster, I urge you to visit one.

I told you that I was not comfortable telling to people that I am a Toastmaster but why am I talking about it now? What had changed? Is it because I was infected with their weirdness?

Maybe yes. And why would I not tell to the world how this weird community have helped me transform my communication and leadership skills? Today, I don’t fear to be judged at the level of my skill. I am exposing myself as a work-in-progress and I declare that Toastmasters have contributed a lot in my growth and development as a communicator and leader. I am not yet at the highest peak but I am happy because every single moment that I spend with Toastmasters and the times when I prepare my speech projects for Toastmasters, I am making myself a favour. I am making progress.

Toastmasters have helped me a lot. Let me share to you two essentials that I gained from Toastmasters:

First, energy in interactions.

My default setting is being silent, and I believe that silence is very good. But there are also times that I have to speak up and interact with people enthusiastically and confidently.

As an employee in a multi-national company with numerous interactions with people of various nationalities, the training I have with Toastmasters come in handy. Challenges still linger in every conversation, meeting presentation, or agenda deliberation but the confidence I gained in a community of weird people boost me up to handle the turbulence of the moment.

In my more than two years of Toastmasters experience, every speaking opportunity in and outside the club is a gift. And every evaluation given is constructive wherein the evaluator congratulates you for a job well done and also challenges you to push further and step higher.

Second, emancipation from internal prisons.

When I was starting as a Toastmaster, there was one time when I responded to a Table Topic (impromptu speaking) not because I volunteered but because I was volunteered by someone else.

Hesitantly, I stood up. My hands started shaking. I was trembling. With all the nerves in my brain, I seem to have forgotten the topic that was just read. I had to ask the Topic Master to read it again.

After 3 seconds, I started mumbling words. I didn’t even know if the audience understood any word.

When the red light was on, I said my closing sentence and then sat down.

When I returned to my seat, I didn’t have any idea if I made sense to them but one thing is for sure – my hands stopped shaking.

Then during the evaluation portion, I was surprised when I was told that I was able to answer the question and got my point across. And she wasn’t sugar-coating. The evaluator specified the good skills that I was able to exemplify and she also gave me specific suggestions for improvement.

All the while, I thought I was a wreck in that impromptu speech. But then I realized that I actually conveyed a good message.

There was also one time when my Toastmaster mentor told me to join the contest. I was hesitant because I was good at telling myself, “No, not yet. I’m not yet ready. I’m not yet good. Maybe, I’ll join in the future but not now.” But thanks to infectious weirdness, I boldly joined the contest. In the area level, I was the champion. Don’t be too impressed, we were two in the contest. In the division level, I landed 2nd runner up. Guess what – we were three in the contest. That means I came last. So I wasn’t able to get to the national or district level. But that’s not the point. That experience liberated me from my own fear. It also helped me gauge the development of my skill.

Those are the kinds of experiences that I call emancipating experiences. Often times we have these internal chains that pull us back to just stay down but thankfully, there are these tools available to us to break this bondage and finally free you – emancipate you.

These two: energy in interactions and emancipation from internal prisons are just two of the things that I gained in Toastmasters. There are a lot more. And I leave the others for you to discover when you join us. But I also have to warn you – expect that you will be infected with weirdness.

So whether you are starting as a speaker or already an advanced speaker, come to Toastmasters. Whether you are professional, amateur, or pre-beginner, come to Toastmasters. Whether you are seeking for friendship or looking for a girlfriend or boyfriend, yes – come to Toastmasters. Whether you are normal or weird, you can come to Toastmasters.

Toastmasters is a gift to the world and I am blessed to have an access to it. I hope that you too will make the move to gain access.

Live your life, young mind!

Chris Dao-anis

PS: To know more about Toastmasters, visit our club website at www.iametoastmasters.weebly.com.

Toastmasters Triple Treat: You Might Be Missing It

Rica saw my picture on Facebook and asked, “Is that you with your Saturday night group? You seem to be doing a bunch of interesting stuff.”

I smiled and said, “Yes! That’s our Toastmasters Club!”

“Toastmasters. Really?” she seemed so surprised that I am a Toastmaster. “Isn’t that an elitist group?” she asked.

I answered, “Of course, not! It is for everyone who wants to become a better leader and speaker.”

“So isn’t that for eloquent speakers only?”

“Of course, not! People join Toastmasters not because they are already fantastic speakers but because they want to become one. And Toastmasters can serve as their partner to achieve such goal.”

“Sounds cool! Can I attend one of your meetings even if I am not yet a member?”

“Sure. You are most welcome to attend. It’s the best way to get to know about it – witness and be part of the real event. I’ll see you next Saturday then, 6PM!”

We bumped fists then we parted.

Kicking off the new toastmaster year, members and officers of IAME & Associates TMC pose for their traditional picture taking as they cheerfully concluded their meeting with the theme “It’s Brainy Season! (Learning while Raining)” last July 6. Photo Courtesy: IAME Toastmasters Facebook account

What happens in a Toastmasters meeting?

In meetings, we speak, listen, and laugh. And we enjoy!

“Is that it? What’s the magic?”

Well, that’s just it. I can’t give you a specific answer on that but I may describe our club meetings as:
– Educational
– Entertaining
– Emancipating

With these are the three parts of a regular Toastmasters club meeting. They are the following:
– Table Topics
– Prepared Speeches
– Evaluation

Table Topics. This is the impromptu speaking part where the Table Topics Masters gives a topic and everyone is encouraged to think on their feet and speak their thoughts out. Anyone can volunteer to respond using patterns like Point-Reason-Example-Point, Past-Present-Future, and Story-Message-Gain among others.

Topics may come from different areas of interest. They may be something related to the theme of the meeting, if any.

There was one time when I responded to a Table Topic not because I volunteered but because I was volunteered by someone else. Hesitantly, I stood up. I was trembling. With all the nerves in my brain, I seem to have forgotten the topic that was just read. I had to ask the Topic Master to read it again.

After 3 seconds, I started mumbling words. I didn’t even know if the audience understood any word.

When the red light was on, I said my closing sentence and then sat down.

When I returned to my seat, I didn’t have any idea if I made sense to them but one thing is for sure – my hands stopped shaking.

Whatever you’ll call it but I say, that was an emancipating experience!

Prepared Speeches. Once you become a member of Toastmasters, you will be provided with manuals that you can work on. There are projects with designated learning points and objectives, starting from the basics of public speaking up to the advanced skills. You are to deliver a speech based on the projects set.

In our club, we usually have three to four prepared speakers every meeting. But in our recent meeting, that number was more than doubled – we had 9 speakers!

Let me give you a quick report:

Dr. Hermie, who was once about-to-be-ordained-priest, related his life story with its twist as to what he called his special journey. He made use of his vocation and love story to nail down his point and convey his big message to the audience. A guest audience confessed, “I was so touched by your speech. It’s really from the heart.” All applause to Dr. Hermi’s Ice Breaker – the first prepared speech a Toastmaster delivers.

Espie, a young accountant and also one of the new members, spoke about her life and the subject of happiness in her Ice Breaker. One of the highlights of her story is when she graduated as Magna cum Laude amidst financial difficulties she had to tackle while studying. And on happiness, she quoted the wife of George Washington saying, “Happiness… depends upon our disposition, and not upon our circumstances.” In this first project, Espie demonstrated her good speech writing skills.

Belvin, also an accountant-auditor, talked about learning as an endless pursuit. He said that he loves learning. With his personal and professional endeavours, he shared three things where he gains more knowledge and skills: trainings, work exposures, and reading books. A round of applause to Belvin for sharing us wonderful life’s lessons and also for inviting his fellow auditors to experience the gift of Toastmasters.

An experienced professor, Dr. Aldwin, started off by saying – A man of integrity walks securely. – and recounted his personal story. Like Job, who he calls a Man of Steel, he did not fall into temptation when a troubling moment came. Dr. Edgar, with his credibility as a tax officer, declared his stand on the subject of tax delinquency. Meanwhile, Aris cautioned us to safeguard our personal information against impersonators while he made us chuckle with his slum book example. Ayl, on the other hand, mesmerized us with her story on the bewitching beauty of Vietnam. The portion kicked off with the speech of new club prexy Carla on meeting roles and responsibilities, and ended with a session with Learning Master Arthur.

Evaluation. This is the part when Table Topics and Prepared Speakers are given constructive feedback by their assigned evaluators. And mind you, every evaluator is also being evaluated in his/her stint in giving feedback to the speakers.

Do you remember one of my Table Topics stint as I told you above? During the evaluation portion, I was surprised when I was told that I was able to answer the question and got my point across. And she wasn’t sugarcoating. The evaluator specified the good skills that I was able to exemplify and she also gave me suggestions for improvement.

All the while, I thought I was a wreck in that impromptu speech. But when I heard the evaluation, I actually made it and even excited to respond to another Table Topic.

The things I wrote here are just small pieces of the bigger Toastmaster picture. Yes, you can call it a Triple Treat! At the moment, I just could not find the words to describe each part more comprehensively. All I can say is that every Toastmasters meeting is educational, entertaining, and emancipating – something that you shouldn’t be missing.

So why not try to check it out and see how Toastmasters can be of help to you?

Visit our club or any club near you.

Don’t miss this out.

Your stories are meant to be told and your voice is meant to be cultivated. Let it be heard.

Live your life, young mind!

Chris Dao-anis

PS: Our club, IAME & Associates Toastmasters Club meets every other Saturday, 6PM at IAME Bldg, Metropolitan Ave, Makati City (near Shopwise). Do join us!

Why You Should Attend a Toastmasters Club Meeting

I just came from the District Conference of Philippine Toastmasters in Cebu.

It was huge! It was incredible! It was fantastic!

I’ve met other Toastmasters from all over the country and some from overseas. It was also great to listen to world-class speakers. One of them is none other than the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking, Darren La Croix.

I don’t have a title like Darren.

I am not yet a professional speaker and don’t speak in big stages yet but once in a while, one or two friends would come up to me and ask how they can prepare for their speech in class or for their presentation at work.

And with the learning I have from powerful public speakers who I consider my mentors, actually and virtually, and through the learning I receive in Toastmasters, I answer them and they walk away with some tips that they can use the next day.

But I don’t think tips are enough to transform one’s public speaking skills. It has to be a continuous process.

And so this moment, if you are to ask me 7 steps to level-up your speaking skills, it would be these:

1. Go get wisdom from great speakers in small and/or big events.
2. Blend this with your personal voice.
3. Practice in small events.
4. Get feedback in small events.
5. Deliver again in small events.
6. Once again, get feedback in small events.
7. Repeat the process.

In Toastmasters, “small events” can mean club meetings and “big events” can mean district conferences like the one I just attended last week in Cebu where I’ve met Darren, the world champion.

If you noticed, “small events” is mentioned 5 times in the above 7 steps.

This is how important attending club meetings is.

It is where you start.

It is where you can practice.
It is where you can fail.
It is where you can try again.
It is where you can fail again and again.
It is where you can try again and again and again.

It is where you can rise up and transform your craft.
It is where you can level-up your speaking skills.
It is where you prepare yourself for big events.

Before the competition in that one morning of 2011 at the International Convention, Darren LaCroix walked into every club meeting he could go to deliver his speech and receive feedback. Among other tools, he made use of “the club meeting” as a springboard to finally jump high and emerge as the World Champion.

Like Darren, let’s make use of these small events. You and I may not have the same purpose as his, but we can make use of it just like he did.

Use it as a launch pad to catapult you to your desired success.

Live your life, young mind!

Chris Dao-anis

PS: If you are not yet a Toastmaster, I invite you to attend and experience our small event, the club meeting. Be our guest! Our club meets on Saturdays, 6pm, at IAME, Metropolitan Ave, Makati City. If can’t come to Makati, you can try other clubs in other locations. Visit www.toastmasters.org.

Gain the Gift of Toastmasters

Gov. Betsie Krueger posted yesterday on Facebook. It says, “On February 22, 1878, a man was born. His name: Ralph Smedley. Happy birthday to Dr. Smedley who gave us Toastmasters.”

Toastmasters is a gift to the world. Through Toastmasters, Ralph Smedley made a difference to the world. This is one of the reasons why people remember this man and his birthday even after his death in 1965.

When we were born, we were given equal chances to make a difference in this world. In our own big and little ways, I really believe we can. There are a lot of ways. One is by being a Toastmaster.

By being a member of Toastmasters alone, you can do a lot of things. When you deliver your speech projects, you are not only given the chance to improve your skills but also to influence the lives of your audience. When you are given the opportunity to evaluate other speakers, you are directly helping them hone their communication skills. You are also given the portion to encourage them achieve their dreams, goals, and aspirations.

This makes Toastmasters a total package. Because in Toastmasters, you receive help; and at the same time, you give help. No matter what.

I’d like to invite you to Toastmasters International.

Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. It has a strong membership of 280,000 around the globe. By attending one of the 13,500 clubs in 116 countries, these members improve their speaking and leadership skills. (www.toastmasters.org)

They say that your greatest investment is yourself. Hence, it is just right to invest for the development of yourself. At $36 every month, you will potentially receive a gargantuan return. You just have to make the most out of it.

You won’t expect an expert to lecture you in a Toastmasters meeting. A meeting is a learn-by-doing workshop. Again, there is no instructor, only speakers (who deliver the speech project) and evaluators (who give constructive feedback to the speakers).

Every member becomes a speaker and evaluator. In my personal point of view, it is a process of receiving, then giving, then receiving, and then giving. It’s a cycle that goes no other than the development of every member.

In Toastmasters, we do not attend meetings; rather, we participate in meetings. Members are also given the opportunity to improve their skills in impromptu speaking and also to develop skills related to timekeeping and grammar.

Oh, do you notice some speakers who have a lot of pause fillers (like ah, uhm, er) or unnecessary words (like actually, you know) when they speak? Or are you one of those? While this seems to be a minor stuff, a number of people get distracted because of these. You don’t want to lose your audience because of a minor stuff, do you? The Ah Counter’s Report at the last part of the meeting may help you in this area.

When I joined Toastmasters in 2010, I received my first manual. It is called Competent Communication manual, a series of 10 self-paced speaking assignments designed to instill a basic foundation in public speaking. And yes, it is self-paced.

There are two tracks to take: the communication and leadership track. Once completed, you will be called a Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM). More than the norm or title you receive is the development and transformation you gave yourself and to others as well.

Since Toastmasters’ inception in 1924, more than 4 million people around the world have become more confident speakers and leaders because of their participation in this non-profit organization.

I have been a member for more than 2 years and I can see my improvement. Yes, I am not yet there. I am a work-in-progress. I invite you to be one of us.

If you are already an advanced speaker, join us.

If you are a beginner as I was, join us.

If you are a pro, join us.

If you are a pre-beginner, join us.

This is the place where you receive help and give help and receive help and give help again, and again, and again.

This is the reason why I believe that Toastmasters is making a difference to the world.
You can be part of it. You can make a difference today.

Visit a Toastmasters club and see it for yourself.

Live your life, young mind!

Chris Dao-anis

PS: I am a member of IAME & Associates Toasmasters Club. We meet on (2nd & 4th) Saturdays at 6PM in the International Academy of Management and Economics (IAME) located along Metropolitan Avenue, Makati City, Philippines (near Shopwise / Vito Cruz cor Pasong Tamo). Your visit is free.

If you are far from Makati, find a club near you by visiting www.toastmasters.org and use the Meeting Locations tool. Each club has its own personality. Look for your type. 

A Speaker’s Partner

I don’t usually tell people that I am a Toastmaster.

I don’t.

I feared that I may dent the prestigious image of Toastmasters International.

I was afraid that when I start stating that I am a member of this leading authority in public speaking, I would pin myself into a dartboard of mocking and pity.

I was terrified that I would be toasted to critics and judgments.

“What?! That guy claims to be a Toastmaster. He does not even know how to say a toast or introduce himself. Perhaps, what he mastered is to put a bread in an oven toaster!”

I wouldn’t blame the person if ever. I blame the thought that Toastmasters is only for the elite. This was my thinking before I thought of joining.

I was made to believe that only the most eloquent speakers of the land are qualified.

And I concluded without sufficient conclusive evidence that a young and innocent ‘wanna-be’ speaker like me is not welcome to join the club.

I was wrong!

While it may be true that there are a lot of Toastmasters who are remarkable in the speaking arena, that people would pay an arm and a leg just to listen to them, or that people would sit for days and hours to listen and pick their every marvelous word of wisdom delivered with wit and eloquence, there are also Toastmasters who are just starting to learn to speak in public.

There are professional speakers and perhaps almost professional (if there’s such a thing).
There are advanced speakers and not so advanced.
There are beginners and some hesitate to begin speaking.
And yes, some are forced to join.

Luckily, I am not a member by coercion. Although, I can be a Table Topics (impromptu) speaker by coercion.

I joined Toastmasters not because I am a good communicator. I joined because I wanted to learn.

There are other numerous reasons. There are also a lot of skill-set that a member wants to work on. And I have guess – a lot wanted to improve their skills in the use of the spoken word.

So why improve your communication skills? Why improve your skills on the use of the spoken word?

Let me share three big reasons:

First, because the spoken word is inevitable.

Can you manage to wake up from your bed in the morning and lay back to your slumber in the evening without having spoken any word throughout the day?

True enough that communication isn’t optional and so is the spoken word.

You are engaged everyday in several public speaking encounters.

You may not be a seminar leader, preacher, teacher, or a keynote speaker that speaks in front of an audience but everytime you open your mouth and begin uttering words, you are speaking publicly.

You may be in front of your friend, your boss, your co-worker, your prospective employer, your prospective girl friend, your client, your prospective mother-in-law, or your pet cat or dog!

You speak every single day. You cannot choose not to.

Second, because the spoken word is irreversible.

The skill of public speaking is not only about the eloquence of your speech, but also the tactfulness of your speech.

You may be capable of literally taking your tongue back but you can never take back any word that is spoken from your mouth.

One of the things I like much in Toastmasters is the guiding principle everytime an evaluation is given to a speaker. That is, the evaluator shall evaluate to motivate.

In our club, we won’t refer to an evaluation a “constructive criticism” because of the word’s negative connotation. Rather, we are encouraged to call it “constructive feedback”.

My mentor would unceasingly remind that when you evaluate, never ever say any hurting word.

That blows my mind! Such a huge challenge, huh?

But wow!

If every person would learn that skill of giving feedback by highlighting the strengths instead of weakness, by giving suggestions for improvement instead of enumerating the “wrong” things done, and by encouraging not demeaning, what a wonderful turn-around in the world’s atmosphere it would be.

Improving one’s communication skills does not only strive on what to say but also what not to say.

Third, because the spoken word intoxicates.

In intoxicate, I mean, it can change a person.
It can inspire.
It can empower.
It can influence.
It can push people to pursue their passion.
It can pump out the potential of a person.
It can change lives.

And by working on your speaking skills, you can turn a scattered manuscript into a solid and splendid message.

So if the use of the spoken word is not an option, being a speaker is not an option. Whether you like it or not, you are a speaker.

You may be speaking to a big crowd or to roomful of people, to a neighbor or to your partner, to a balut vendor or to a business tycoon, to your co-workers or Facebook friends, to your future wife or your ex-girlfriend, to your fans or to your Twitter followers, to an acquaintance or to your best friend –

You are inevitably giving out something that is irreversible and intoxicating.

And when you give this out, you want to do it in ways that appreciate, build, and connect people.

There are a lot of ways to make this possible. One of which is with Toastmasters.

Visit a club now!


Speak and live your life, young mind!

Chris Dao-anis

PS:

Know more about Toastmasters at www.toastmasters.org.

You can also drop me a note on Facebook or Twitter, or email me at livelife@chrisdaoanis.com.

Feel free to drop a comment below and/or share this article.
And if you wish to get automatic updates, subscribe here in our homepage.

God bless!