A skinny-legged girl wearing a peach lace dress and her favourite clunky wooden-heeled shoes stepped onto the stage of the Mountainview Public School gymnasium. A quiet grade seven student who was too shy to say no when the opportunity presented itself to be the school talent show master of ceremonies.
Public speaking was always something I wanted to do, but it also meant standing in front of a group of people I didn’t know; people, I assumed, were already good at speaking publicly. The fear of public speaking is a real thing. Glossophobia, according to healthline.com, affects four out of 10 people. Even the best speakers experience butterflies, sweaty hands and a racing heart. It takes training and practice to get better.
Toastmasters International is a not-for-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills worldwide. It has more than 16,000 clubs in 145 countries. If I was going to learn what it takes to be a better speaker, where better?
Michael Jordan once said, “Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.” And here I was, denying myself something I wanted to do because of a fear of trying.
The day came when I put my brave hat on and I signed up to join a Toastmasters Club meeting. I was greeted by friendly people and positive encouragement. Soon I was delivering my first speech. I won’t say I wasn’t nervous, because I was. But I did it!
It’s been three years since I joined my local club and I’m still loving it. I encourage you to check out the programs offered by Toastmasters International and sharpen your skills!