Toastmasters is More Than Just Public Speaking – My Toastmaster’s Journey

I’ve had a lot of fun the last week or so with some of the dialogues I’ve had on this blog, via email and the various social networks. I’ve also been enlightened, shocked and learned a few things. So to wrap up this topic so I can move on to the finer points of other areas of communication and personal development, I want to provide you with my final thoughts on Toastmasters along with a brief history of my involvement with this great organization.

Why I joined:

Five Signs That You May Have Outgrown Toastmasters

Five Signs That You May Have Outgrown ToastmastersShortly after joining Toastmasters I couldn’t imagine myself getting to a point in life where I wouldn’t be regularly attending meetings. There were so many things to do in Toastmasters such as go for my DTM, participate in speech contests and get roles at the district level. But life is funny and sure enough, I quit Toastmasters, not just once, but twice.

I know that there is this perception that Toastmasters is just for amateurs – I remember hearing one woman vocally express this during a National Speakers Association meeting I attended. I don’t believe that to be the case as I know several excellent speakers who still use Toastmasters to sharpen their skills.

The Ah Counter Debate Part 2: More About Ums and Ahs

The Ah Counter Debate Part 2: More About Ums and AhsMy recent post on whether Toastmasters should dump the Ah counter role has sparked an interesting discussion. A few folks have posted comments to this site, sent me email and messaged me on some of the online social networking services both for and against the counting of (and caring about) filler words.

Where I stand on the issue is that unless the speaker repeatedly uses filler words over and over again, I don’t find them to be a big deal. So if someone says “ah” or “um” three times throughout a fifteen minute talk, I wouldn’t hold it against them. Now, if they started every sentence off with “ummmmmmmm…” then it would drive me crazy.

Does Toastmasters Really Need the Ah Counter Role?

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.

How to be a Good Audience Member

How to be a Good Audience MemberAs speakers, we work hard researching how to better communicate and connect with our audiences. We spend hours tweaking a twenty minute talk. We’ll try to figure out who might be in attendance. We spend hours practicing our speeches so that we give the audience the best experience possible. Wouldn’t it be nice if our audiences took the time to make sure they get the most out of our talk?

There’s More to Success than Money

There's More to Success than MoneyYou’ve probably heard the phrase “there’s more to life than money” hundreds of times, but that’s because there’s some truth to it. The same holds true with success — success isn’t all about money. Through the years I’ve had the pleasure of knowing several people who I considered to be successful on a professional basis. One of the things that many of them taught me was that success isn’t about money. But before I get to them, let me share a story that you may have already heard.

You Can Have My Lamborghini

You Can Have My LamborghiniI’ll never forget the first time I saw the movie “Cannonball Run 2” because it was the first time I fell in love. The movie opens with a white Lamborghini Countach having some fun with the police on a desert road. Yes, I fell in love with the car (especially after the car pulled a costume change and turned red) although the passenger in it — Catherine Bach, “Daisy Duke” from the Dukes of Hazzard — certainly caught my attention as well. From that day on, my goal in life was to own a red Lamborghini Countach.