To Change!

by Megan M. on January 14, 2008 · View Comments (Projects) |

On Wednesday, I’m going to join… gulp… Toastmasters.

Yes. You heard that purposefully italicized note of anxiety. The girl who started a design company out of high school just because she wanted to make something new and awesome—no, the girl who happily stood on stage in a foreign country and sang for an audience God-knows-how-big, waded through television and radio media, and would do it again in a heartbeat—is nervous about speaking.

I always have been, and that’s one of the reasons this business has been built up around email interaction instead of eye-to-eye meetings. I do lunches, I do coffee, and I do meet people in person (fairly often, considering!) but I will tell you, it is not something that comes easily to me. I will sing whatever you want in front of ten or ten thousand people, but you say you want me to talk to them? Jiminy Christmas.

I visited a meeting last week at National Instruments (because a friend was kind enough to let me tag along) and I found the group incredibly friendly, very engaging and interesting. My long list of worries and irrational concerns (yes, I made a list) was chopped off at the knees (as I mostly expected), and I was confronted with the undeniable next step: Join Toastmasters.

The next few days were a bit of a blur; I filled out my take-home application, set aside my checkbook, and put on my Patient Megan hat to wait out the rest of the week. But then I started seeing references to Toastmasters in my usual newsfeeds. My original interest in Toastmasters, long ago, had been founded on a Boing Boing article—which I can’t find anywhere now, of course, and even Google has failed me. But after filling out that application I noticed that Steve Pavlina has several posts on Toastmastering. He has a fantastic article on progressive training where he discusses his Toastmasters path, another about making mistakes (and taking risks), and another about humorous speechmaking. I hope I find more as I go—Pavlina writes awesome material.

Additionally, even though Google failed me in searching for the original Toastmasters reference I had seen, it did reveal a fantastic speech by Neil Gaiman at the Nebula Awards (via). Suddenly I’m interested in speeches. Brains are so tricksy!

You can sort of see where I’m going with this. The next meeting is Wednesday, and I admit I’m excited to find out what happens next. We all change very quickly into new people; I am a different person today than I was yesterday, or last week, or last year. Who will I be in a month, I wonder?

  • Andrei Freeman
    Public Speaking (I think) is still ranked among the top fears listed. There is a huge feeling of vulnerability and living without a net.

    I was very lucky to go to a college that required freshmen to take a semester of written communication and a semester of spoken communication. A lot of folks avoided my college or dropped out because of this requirement.

    Personally, I think more schools should adopt it.

    Best of luck. I've considered Toastmasters once or twice myself. Unlike most, I like public speaking. I just have no time.

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