I’ll never forget my first Toastmasters meeting back in 2002. There were three fantastic speeches followed by my favorite part of the meeting – Table Topics. If you’re not familiar with Table Topics, it’s the part of the meeting where folks are welcomed to come up and speak “off the cuff” about the topic of the day. I participated and lasted 47 seconds. And, thanks to the person in the “Ah Counter” role, I found out that I had some filler words. At first, I found that role to be very cool and useful, but there’s two reasons why I question whether or not it’s needed – or even helpful.
Throughout the last six years, I’ve heard at least a dozen folks who are good speakers tell other people that they should never open their speech with “Thanks, it’s nice to be here” or some other cordial greeting. I’ve asked many of these folks why they feel so strongly about it and have yet to receive what I consider a satisfactory answer – a giveaway that I might have a myth on my hands.
Here are some of the answers I’ve received when asking why this is so bad:
- It weakens your speech.
- It bores the audience.
I was just in the car a few minutes ago and saw something which I feel is a bad trend – a vehicle used to advertise the owner’s small business that also had political bumper stickers on it (at least one of which that was somewhat harsh). It caught my eye because one would think that the owner would have enough common sense to not do this because not only is it unprofessional but it’s just plain stupid.