Ten Things I Learned About Speaking Beyond Toastmasters

I’m frequently invited to speak at Toastmasters clubs about how to speak beyond Toastmasters. Last year, I gave a presentation at a District Conference on this topic and was excited about how much interest there was in learning more about it. It’s just a natural progression – once you’ve peaked in Toastmasters, you feel ready to go out and use these skills that you’ve mastered.

So here are the top then things I’ve learned about speaking beyond Toastmasters:

  1. Ums and ahs don’t really matter unless they are excessive.
  2. Going over your allotted time can quickly turn your audience against you.
  3. Not all audiences are friendly, but it’s rare to encounter a truly hostile audience.
  4. You can’t please everyone so don’t try to.
  5. Just because you’re speaking for free (or a reduced fee) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put forth your best effort.
  6. Feedback can be a tough pill to swallow so be careful of what you ask for.
  7. It is okay to open with “Hello” or “Thanks for having me here.”
  8. Always bring two copies of your speech introduction with you.
  9. Always over prepare – the unexpected happens a lot more than you might expect.
  10. If you make a mistake or things don’t work out the way you want them to, pick yourself back up and try it again.

I’ve written entire articles on most of these tips but they are generally self-explanatory. If you have some additional tips or experiences you’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment.

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5 thoughts on “Ten Things I Learned About Speaking Beyond Toastmasters

  1. Kristin Arnold

    Excellent ideas, James! I would also add to go with your strengths, and let go of what isn’t. For example, if you’re a good storyteller, tell a good story! And if you suck at powerpoint, run, Forrest, run! Don’t do it!

  2. James Post author

    Thanks Kristin. :)

    Your points are excellent as well. It’s important for us as speakers to leverage what we do well and avoid the areas that we’re not so good at – especially in front of paying audiences. Although Toastmasters is a great venue to try new things and experiment.

    Thanks again for the comment.

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  4. Kevin Kane

    James, I’ve done 3 Toastmasters speeches, and I’ve volunteered to facilitate five 3-hour workshops with Junior Achievement.

    Thanks for the encouragement to keep getting out there into the real world of speaking!

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