Snowboard Instructors vs.Toastmasters !!

I twittered about attending Toastmasters the last 2 weeks, I thought I would talk more about the experience.  My friend introduced me to Toastmasters about a year ago, but when VanCityAllie talked about it in her blog, I thought I better start checking it out to see what all the fuss is about.  The reason that I’m trying to find a toastmasters is it will help me become a better speaker.  An instructor speaks to the public all day so it is his or her job to be good at public speaking.  There is a different way of addressing kids comparing to adults.  Even though it gets the students to the same place no matter how you teach them but it matters to the students if the learning process is enjoyable (especially for beginners).  As many of you know, we use Positive to and Try to encourage students.  Toastmasters will help me phrase my lessons better and incorporate a sense of humor into the lesson without sounding nervous or without sounding like I’m talking down to the students.  You can find out more about the format of their meetings through the Toastmasters website, but I will only comment on my experience and not on the specifics.

Last week I went to a toastmasters in Burnaby, it was comprised of mostly new Asian immigrants who are still learning English.  It was a pretty big club, about 18 people in the meeting.  We sat around in a square with the speaker front and centre.  They emphasized on the importance of not only giving good speeches but also keeping the speeches on time and concise.  The atmosphere was pretty relaxed.  Almost everyone had a chance to speak, including the guests.  Everyone spoke with confidence though sometimes it was hard to understand what they were saying because of the heavy accent.  After talking to a few of the participants, some of the senior members commented that all the people there are trying to better themselves.  No matter how hard their situation in life are or if they are still learning English, they are not watching TV wasting life away but instead came to the meeting to improve their situations.  I found that quite encouraging though I don’t think I will be back simply because I need to be among participants that are better at public speaking than I am for me to improve myself.  This particular club also videotapes every meeting and club members could borrow the DVD’s home to see what their mistakes were.

This week I went to a toastmasters that is closer to where I live.  This toastmaster is set right on the beach.  Well…a house on the beach right next to the ocean.  It was such a beautiful location, I could see my workplace from outside the window.  They told me that in the summer time, they sometimes would just go outside and sit on the beach for the meetings.  This club’s meeting is a little more serious.  Everyone was either dressed semi-formal or in a full-on suit.  I felt a bit out of place because I just wore my casual shirt and jeans, like what I would wear when I go to a pub.  The sitting arrangement was like in an assembly or a corporate meeting with all the chairs in rows facing forward.  This crowd was much better at public speaking than the one last week.  This crowd was also a bit older and much more experienced as public speakers in their careers.  There were real estate agents, movie producers, actors, company presidents, sales consultants and jewelers.  Almost everyone that went up to speak had a great sense of humor.  I was laughing almost non-stop for the first hour I was there.  This group has a lot of social events as well as giving back to the community by teaching public speaking at a community college.  They usually go out for a meal afterward to socialize.

The theme for the night was “movies”.  One of the member was given the topic 2 hours before the meeting started and he prepared a really great speech with lots of facts and research in that short period of time.  They also had an improv called “Table Topics” where you are given a situation and you have to make a 2 minute speech from it without any preparation.  First guy that went up was asked if he was an animal in an animated movie, what animal he would be.  He talked about an animal (I don’t remember which) and he started voice acting for the animal that he talked about (everyone laughed).  He then launched off to talking about how he would make those funny voices for his grand-daughter and his relationship with her.  I see that everyone there was really confident and incorporate their sense of humor into their speeches.  The atmosphere, once again was relaxed, and it felt like everyone has been friends for a long time.  After talking to a few members, I found out there were also newcomers in the group but they were treated like close friends too.  The speeches given by the members of this club are definitely how I want my own public speaking to be like in the future.

I will be exploring a few more toastmasters clubs in the city before settling down on one.

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2 Responses

  1. I’ve been recommended to do ToastMasters but I really do not like speaking in front of groups of people. Though the benefit would be pretty good for me I suppose. Lots of knowledge in my head I could share with people but a wee bit shy to get it out 😉

    Looking forward to the rest of your toastmaster experiences

  2. Toastmasters is especially great for beginners. Most folks who go to Toastmasters are afraid to speak in public. For those who are beyond that Toastmasters is less helpful…unless you find individuals who can really help you at your level and who can help you accomplish your own goals. That can be challenging. You might also look for a mentor who can listen to your speeches (the real ones, not the ones at Toastmasters) and give you suggestions. If you record your own speaking, it would be very helpful for you in the future. Good luck.

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