Just practice

By Melanie Suzanne Wilson

The last meeting reminded me to just practice and learn. We take for granted the opportunities in our club to try new skills. One member of the club once told an audience, ‘Toastmasters is where you can make mistakes more than out in the real world.’ This is sometimes true. Although we try to avoid major catastrophes, the goal here is to have a go the best you can and not to worry too much if there are parts of a speech to change next time. That’s surely the whole point of evaluation. 

Last Thursday, I set a goal at the Parramatta Toastmasters meeting that we don’t always set. My goal was to just practice using visual aids. Sometimes we set a goal like that, and get caught up in the detail of what we are saying. But I would have had less time to focus on the details of using slides if I was always focused on the content of the speech. There was the luxury at Toastmasters of focusing on learning PPT. 

A group of speakers in another context recently had a complete crisis. My lecturer sounded enthusiastic at the idea of a Toastmaster training the university students how to do powerpoint (ask me if you are interested in this idea). These twenty-somethings could have benefitted from the CC speech “Get comfortable with visual aids” (note it says “comfortable” and not “terrified”). My lecturer at university had told me a couple of days before that he was getting fed up with groups speaking whilst staring at a piece of
paper, and putting every word of their speeches into powerpoint slides. They had not been given the chance to practice. But the benefit of Toastmasters is it lets us learn these skills more than anywhere else.   

Elizabeth Wilson learned something new at Toastmasters in the summer. Elizabeth became the substitute treasurer. Having scored a new role she had never tried before, Elizabeth embraced it with humour and used an actual L-plate (somebody please take a picture next time). This L plate was usually on the car when I drove. This was a visual reminder we are all learning. It seems she got the hang of recording the money and totally aced it. But Parramatta club learned an important lesson back in January – there is always more to learn in time. 

What does this mean for you? I would like to encourage all of you to try something new. Maybe you have never been treasurer. Maybe you have yet to visit Speechcraft and learn to teach. Whatever it is, remember to embrace every opportunity in the club. If nothing else, the experience would look good on a resume.

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