I have been a member of Toastmasters for two years now. I am well-trained and used to the fact that when I go to a meeting, I will be critiqued. And believe it or not, I actually like it because it helps me grow and improve.
Last month, I was asked to present at my local district’s leadership training or Member Education and Leadership Expo (MELE). I was one of the breakout sessions and presented “Business: Table Topics on Steroids.” As you can tell by the name, I focused in on how Toastmasters not only helps you with your speaking skills and leadership, but it also can help you with your career—whether you own your own business or work for someone else.
About a year or so ago, a friend of mine (not a Toastmaster) was presenting at the local conference and her comment to me was that she was nervous because she would be in a room with a bunch of people who were trained to critique her. At the time I thought it was funny, but now that I was in that situation, it put a different perspective on her concern.
I started off highlighting how the various parts of the meeting correspond to every day interactions in the business world, but then I focused in on how Table Topics specifically is most like the business world, or in all honesty, life! It’s unpredictable and you need to come up with something. It tests your ability to think on your feet, reveals your weaknesses, and strengthens your confidence all in 1-2 minutes every week.
As with most of my presentations, I made a point to have audience interaction and left time for Q&A at the end. The presentation went smoothly and was well accepted.
Afterwards, I had about a quarter of the audience hang out to speak with me further and I was told that I was the best speaker of the day! That’s a pretty big accomplishment considering I was presenting to a room filled with Toastmasters and I was not the keynote presenter.