Friday, March 6, 2009

Toastmaster's International

Have you ever heard of the Toastmasters?

They do more then Toast a drink: they learn together how to speak in public, and do it as often as they meet, and even more...

Weather we like to speak up in public at the beginning or we are to shy to do it, at the Toastmaster's meetings we learn to do it better and more effectively. We gain courage.

I did!

I remained alone, when I was 41 years old, and needed to prove myself my life was not over. Found a work for a year (which became three) near Washington, USA and looked around to see if anyone ever will still look at me.

One place a did look, was at the Toasmaster's meetings, the first reason I went there. But as you know, one often gets something other then we go for, in whatever we go to, and this was not exception.

I did not find anyone, at least not there.

What i did find was confidence to speak in public. To stand up and speak. To convince. To look in the eyes of those before me. To module my speech on their reaction, and so much more.

Thirty years ago, when I first went to my first Toastmaster's International meeting in North Virginia very near Washington DC, I was afraid to stand up for two minutes and speak on any topic, whether I was given or was from me. Now days, I can hardly believe it, but is is true. After a year, going twice a week to the meetings, I got more and more courage and knowledge. To speak and to listen too.

Also, yes, I have to admit, my listening skills need more retouching then my speaking ones. I did speak for almost an hour a month ago, without too much problems, of course, I had my photos to show at the same time and statistics on a screen linked to a computer and the web. But listening?

Yes, next time, I have been given the task to listen and record the hesitations, er, mm, etc. and even the 'you know' of other speakers. I find it will be a very difficult and very useful task for me, even if in the pub, after the meeting, when I was give it I did complain. I am sure, I'll learn a lot from it!

Yes, and there is a blog, speaking to all London's Toastmasters or those who are interested to become one, to learn like we do some more confidence and techniques of public speech. Freddie Daniells, whose picture I have taken fast last Tuesday, after the meeting is writing it. Not only the leader of "division b" whatever that means, but a very good speaker and Toastmaster, having lead, the last meeting I participated to in Lee.

It was after the meeting, when some of us went to continue speaking in a pub. As I do not go often to pub, I then have taken a picture of the pool table and someone playing "I come here to have good time" told me and yes, you can take picture of me, "but I am not yet very good at playing it". As I do not play at all, what was important for me is the movement.
Pool player at a Pub in Lee, London
The movement, of course, is important also while we speak, also the voice and rhythm of speech, not only what we say but also how , it is important also. I had a wonderful example of it the same day, when the United Kingdoms Premier minister, Brown, spoke for 35 minutes at the congressmen and senators in Washington. It was a wonderful speech! Another example from were I could learn!

And here is a set of some larger movements, taken at another of the Toastmasters meeting.

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