I have to confess, I was terrified to attend a Toastmasters club meeting.
When I was first introduced to the organization, my new acquaintance described his club meeting and it sounded scary: you get to speak in front of people, and they evaluate you, then you have the chance to do Table Topics when you are asked a question, and you need to think on your feet and give an answer. Lastly, we will be counting your grammatical errors and your filler words.
WHAT! That sounded like absolute torture and I am not a shy person!
3 years later, I left a high ranking corporate job because my boss had a 30-second attention span, and I felt frustrated, unheard and very disheartened. My professional confidence had plummeted to the lowest levels. As I left that company, I decided that I had to improve my communication skills under pressure and learn to deliver a powerful message concisely. I decided to attend a Toastmaster meeting, and the one that piqued my interest was Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs Toastmasters Club. Yes, I was scared to have to talk and to have people evaluating what I was saying and how I was saying it, but I went for it head first.
To my surprise, after the meeting started it all made sense and was not scary at all. A life long learner, concepts like filler words blew my mind! And in a session, after years of presentations to bosses, to the public and to investors, I found how I can immediately improve how I communicated. It was possible to eliminate my filler words: ah, hm, so, like, you know, and then, and also, etc. Honing into the ah-counter report and being mindful of pausing rather than speak to fill the time, I realized that the Toastmasters way was nothing to fear and found a community of servant leaders, supporters and a learning lab where I could become a better version of myself!