Showing up is half the battle according to Kirisha

Where were you last Thursday? I had a cracker of a night.

There were great, candid speeches at the most recent meeting. Everyone was in a feel good mood with the theme being “Count your blessings.” There were positive vibes all around as we recounted what we were thankful for. What stuck out, however, was the small number of Toastmasters present.

There are many reasons why Toastmasters can’t make it to a meeting. Having been the previous Vice President of Education, I got to know a lot of you very well. From my experience, here are some common reasons why people can’t make it to a meeting:

• Work commitments
• Fear of public speaking
• Traffic that leads them to being too late for the meeting

These are all genuine reasons for not attending and can occur to all of us from time to time. However, if continued, it does not advance us in any way towards our original intention of joining Toastmasters: to improve our public speaking skills.

Public speaking is not something we ‘get’ one day and is retained from that point onwards. It is a work in progress. That work in progress is certainly rewarding as you find yourself slowly flourishing and growing more comfortable in front of a crowd. It is amazing how the confidence that comes from being able to communicate what you wish to say clearly in front of an audience can permeate into all sectors of your life. I have seen the change for myself in the way I communicate to my co-workers and personal relationships.

I have been guilty of staying away from Toastmasters recently due to increased work commitments. There’s nothing like the feeling of returning. Once you get to a meeting after having been absent, you remember the warm and supportive faces that you know so well. You remember that this is a group that wants you to succeed and is looking forward to hearing what you have to say. You are glad you came and you can’t wait for the next meeting.

So, are you ready to re-ignite your Toastmasters flame? Here’s how:

• Re-arrange your schedule so that Thursdays are kept free. Is there something on your schedule that could be moved to another evening instead of Thursday? If so, do it.
• Leave work a little early on Thursday if possible, to allow enough time to get there by 6:15pm. There’s nothing more distracting for a speaker than seeing people walk in late while they are speaking.
• Stay for drinks/a coffee at the end of the meeting. You may have work the next day or be exhausted but this is a drink and a chat, not a triathlon. Enjoy yourself and live in the moment!
• Start working on your next speech, even if you are not scheduled to do one just yet. There’s nothing like getting your creative juices going as you start thinking about your next speech topic.

Look through your manual and decide which speech type you would like to work on. Once you have decided and absorb the objectives, start brainstorming some speech ideas.
Remember, 80% of success is just showing up. On that note, I’ll see you at the next meeting!

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