Lessons from New Members

This week I found myself at my home club fulfilling the role of Table Topics Master. It was a role I had done many times before: think of questions (preferably related to the theme), and remember to confirm with timers and evaluators. However on this day one of our newest members, Ming, approached me at the break.

Ming: Hey Vivien, can I ask you a question?
Me: Sure.
Ming: Do you already have your table topic speakers in mind?
Me: Yes, I have a list of preferred speakers.
Ming: Do you think I can be on that list?

As I stammered out his request would be no trouble at all (I was in such shock I couldn’t get it out that he was already on that list) and watched him walk away, I couldn’t help but feel impressed and inspired. Like so many of us, Ming knew he needed to improve his public speaking skills to improve other areas of his life, (i.e. work) so he joined Toastmasters. But how many of us, after joining, would sit silently and beg for the Table Topics Master to not call upon us, or hope the Toastmaster/Chair would not schedule us for a speech for the following meeting?

What I felt was impressive was this young Toastmaster already knew one of the key ways he would succeed: practice, practice, practice. An individual can tell you a lot of general tips that have helped most new Toastmasters: less hand clasping, louder voice, fewer ahs and uhsm, but how will you ever get better if you don’t practice? Practice getting in front of an audience, practice saying words out loud, and (yes) practice breaking out into a cold sweat. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have, and will continue to fail as I practice. Best case scenario if I do fail: I will have a better toolkit for dealing with failure the next time around. Worst case scenario if I do fail: I fail, and prior experience has told me you will not die from embarrassment.

Practice, practice, practice.
Thank you Ming for reminding me.

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