Monday, 17 April, 2006
It took me 8 months, but I finally completed the 10 speech projects required to earn my Competent Toastmaster (CTM) award. Now I'm a little disappointed that I don't have an employer because Toastmasters International will send a notification to your employer if you request it.
Toastmasters has a fantastic program for helping people become better public speakers. The 10-project Communication and Leadership Program gets you through the basics of learning to control nervousness, organizing a speech, using gestures and vocal variety, and many other skills required to be a good public speaker. It's all done in a very low-stress environment with lots of good positive feedback from people who are going through (or just recently went through) the same thing. It really is learning from your peers.
Like anything else, some people have more natural ability than others, but everybody I've seen in the program has improved greatly since I first saw them speak. Not only the beginners, but also experienced speakers who have completed 30 or more speeches with Toastmasters and who knows how many outside of our weekly meetings.
If you're interested in becoming a better public speaker, or just learning to control that terrible fear that almost all of us have, I strongly recommend that you give Toastmasters a shot. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.