“It takes one hour of preparation for each minute of presentation time.”
I joined the fledgling West Cork Toastmasters in September 2014. I was determined to take my speaking more seriously. I was fed up of being an enthusiastic but ultimately unproductive presenter.
“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.”
Toastmasters is an organisation that was founded in 1924 by Ralph Smedley, the first club being formed in Santa Ana, California. The concept has proved successful, there are currently 16,400 clubs with more than 352,000 members in 141 countries. Clubs meet regularly, my own club meets every Saturday morning, with structured meetings where members present prepared speeches, have an opportunity to speak off the cuff with impromptu “Table Topics”and finally evaluate fellow members’ speeches.
“Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent.
There is an organised structure of progress through both speeches and leadership roles. Competitions between clubs present the opportunity to compete at national and international level and also give an opportunity to observe some excellent speakers.
“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”
The fact that I have had to think more about what I am saying, about the structure of my speeches and all aspects of speechcraft and presenting means that I have become a better, more organised and focussed presenter. It also means that I have joined a worldwide community of people dedicated to self improvement through speaking.
“A wise man speaks because he has something to say, a fool speaks because he has to say something.”
People come to Toastmasters for different reasons and as a newcomer to West Cork I have had the opportunity to meet new people and have made some great friends.
If you want to become a better speaker, look out your local Toastmasters club and give it a go.