The Ultimate Guide to Toastmasters Social Anxiety Benefits
Perhaps you’ve heard about Toastmasters but aren’t sure what it’s all about? Here’s a quick rundown on the essential things to know about Toastmasters if you’re considering joining this organization.
History of Toastmasters
Toastmasters was started by Ralph C. Smedley who worked for the YMCA in Bloomington, Illinois. He started the club as a way for men to learn how to speak and conduct meetings at work. The name of the club was based on the term for a person who gives toasts at banquets, etc.
The first unofficial Toastmasters meeting was held on March 24, 1905, and the first female member was admitted in 1970. As of 2018, the organization had 357,000 memberships in 16,600 clubs in 143 countries!
Core Values of Toastmasters
The core values of the organization are integrity, respect, service, and excellence.
Toastmasters teaches you how to become an effective communicator and leader. However, the group does not offer strategies for overcoming stage fright or public speaking anxiety. Rather, it focuses on self-confidence and personal growth.
How to Join Toastmasters
You must be at least 18 years old to join Toastmasters. Visit the Toastmasters website and use their club finder tool to choose a club to visit. You don’t need to speak when visiting a club, so don’t let that put you off from attending a meeting.
When at the club, ask the vice president for a membership application. Then, complete it, and return it with your dues.
Members pay dues of $45 USD every six months and new members pay a $20 registration fee.
After you’ve joined a club and gotten started, find a mentor through the vice president of the club and sign up for your first project.
Toastmasters Tips for Public Speaking
The Toastmasters website has a wealth of resources for improving your public speaking in various scenarios. Below is a summary of some of their top tips:
- Speak from the heart.
- Be a gracious speaker, be modest, and thank others when appropriate.
- Show excitement and passion when appropriate.
- Practice as much as you can in front of a mirror.
- Rehearse with a timer.
- Limit yourself to two or three main points for simple speeches.
- Use meaning stories, anecdotes, and quotes.
- Be inspiring and improve the outlook of others.
- Use appropriate mannerisms and gestures for the occasion.
- Know your audience and speak to them at their level.
- Summarize your speech in one or two sentences.
- Outline your speech with an introduction, main points, and conclusion.
- Anticipate possible questions from the audience.
- Divide complicated questions into parts before answering them.
- Have a great opening to grab your audience’s attention, such as a quote, funny story, or milestone you’ve achieved.
- Become familiar with the venue ahead of time.
- Wear comfortable clothing.
- Only use visual aids that fit your speech and reinforce your points in interesting ways.
- If you need to say people’s names, learn the correct pronunciation.
- Use a conversational tone – don’t read your speech.
- Be patient with yourself if you make a mistake.
- Make eye contact with individual listeners.
- Avoid nervous habits such as putting your hands in your pocket or saying “um” too much.
- Move around the stage and move toward the audience when asking questions or making critical points.
Is Toastmaster’s Right for You?
If you are still on the fence about whether Toastmasters is right for your situation, it’s best to consider what you are looking to gain.
If you have moderate to severe public speaking anxiety, Toastmasters might not be the best first step. Instead, you might benefit from seeing a psychologist or joining a workshop specially designed to help you overcome performance anxiety.
On the other hand, if you are already working on your public speaking anxiety and would like additional opportunities to practice and develop self-confidence, Toastmasters could be the perfect option.
When you think about it, there just aren’t a lot of opportunities for most people to practice public speaking, unless you happen to be a teacher or regularly volunteer to be the M.C. at all of your relatives’ weddings. In this way, Toastmasters fills a gap and provides the perfect setting for honing your public speaking craft.
What do you think? Will you try out Toastmasters? If you’ve ever been to a club, leave a comment below on your experience and whether you found it helpful for improving your public speaking or performance anxiety.