Public Speaking

What I Hate About Toastmasters

Whether it’s during one my classes or seminars, or while having a casual conversation in either a business or social setting, if the topic of public speaking comes up, the topic of Toastmasters often follows. If you’ve been reading my blog for more than a few weeks, then you probably know my position on Toastmasters: I recommend it, but only if you choose the right club.

Through the years I’ve come into contact with thousands of people who have been involved with Toastmasters. Some only attended a single meeting as a guest while others have become International Directors. While the feelings towards this organization vary, most people love it and a few hate it. Personally, I have mostly positive feelings and experiences that I accumulated over my four years as a member, but I also had a few not so good experiences as well. So when someone who had mostly negative experiences with it challenged me to write about the not so good things, I figured it would be an interesting challenge. His exact request was “tell me about some of the things you hate about Toastmasters.” Of course, I don’t hate per say anything about Toastmasters, so I’ve listed the things that peeve me the most. Additionally, I’ve include how to avoid or remedy the situations.

Public Speaking and The Matrix

Much of today’s self-help and personal development programs and materials are geared towards the ‘quick fix’ crowd. People want results fast and the want them with minimal effort. It’s like the film The Matrix where whenever a character within the supercomputer needs to learn a skill, the needed knowledge is downloaded in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, despite the fact that many tools only feed this frenzy, life simply does not work like that.

Why Most Speakers Are Clueless About Social Media

Many professional speakers use social media but most of them use it wrong. They see it as a virtual extension of their speeches and simply talk to their audience while completely ignoring what’s coming back their way. While this is one way to use social media, it’s not the best. Most people don’t care about your blog posts, coupons, tips, events or products unless they know something about you. So if all you do is post this “me” information– everyone is going to ignore you.

Social media is about interactivity – something many speakers may not be used to with their presentations. I’m connected with a number of speakers on various social media services and I see so many of them posting things such as:

Why People Fail

I’ve never been a big fan of “date” movies – romantic comedies where you know the guy and the girl are going to get together at the end, but not sure exactly how they’ll get through the mess created during the first twenty minutes of the film. With these types of films, part of the plot line usually has to do with a guy who’s afraid of commitment.

I usually get frustrated with this plot line – the gal should just move on (or to make it a movie more to my liking, blow up his car while he’s driving away). But no, it gets drawn out for 90+ minutes and somehow the guy sees the err in his ways and decides that he was wrong to not commit in the first place and spend the second half of the movie trying to correct the situation. In most cases, there’s a happy ending but not always. But what’s interesting is that fear or lack of commitment happens a lot in real life and the results are often not a happy ending.

When Words Take on a Life of Their Own

Growing up, I had a bad habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Sometimes it was because I lacked tact and good judgment. Other times, I just used words that could be taken a multitude of ways depending on the listener’s perspective. While most of us outgrow the first scenario, the second one is little more difficult to avoid. In fact, I have a humorous story to share about me making this very mistake just a few years ago.

Do People Really Care About Public Speaking?

I’ve been telling people for years that if they could only improve one skill, it should be their public speaking skills. Now you might think I say this because I help people improve their speaking skills. Well, ironically what got me interested in teaching people public speaking skills is that I realized how important it is to have public speaking skills myself.

Truthfully, I didn’t really “get” the importance of public speaking (nor the benefits) until I took the Dale Carnegie course back in 2002. Prior to that, I hated public speaking and saw no value in it – kind of the way many people feel today.

Watch Your Language

I love listening to country music and there’s a song by Brad Paisley called “Water” that’s getting a lot of airtime (you can watch the video for it at the bottom of this post). It’s a fun song about his love of water and it chronicles his water-related experiences from when he was a child up until his adult years. Now one would think a song like this would remind someone of summer vacations or spring break, but I’m reminded of a conversation that I witnessed during a management training course I took eight years ago.

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