New Member Questions
First off, welcome to one of the most engaging and evolving opportunities you may have in public speaking. As a new member of Toastmasters, by now you may have been to a few meetings and lightly participated, or even given your icebreaker speech. However, like any new experience, you may be having questions about a couple things. This quick fact sheet should assist you in getting settled into your new role!
1. How quickly should I advance and do speeches?
The answer depends on your comfort level, however, keep this in mind: while Toastmasters is a public speaking organization, your speaking abilities are not the only critical asset you need to be a good speaker. Listening, impromptu speaking, and working with others are all very important skills to have. During any particular meeting, there are a number of jobs and opportunities for you to jump into!
2. I’m still nervous, is that normal?
Absolutely. There are very few individuals out there that can walk into a new experience without some reservations and nervousness, especially in a club dedicated to public speaking. Some studies show public speaking as being a more common fear than death! Regardless of your motivation for being in the club, it is perfectly normal to be nervous. Try to understand, though, that we are all here to help each other, and the senior members are more than happy to help you.
3. I want to give speeches, but have no idea what to talk about! What do I do?
Do you have a hobby you enjoy? A unique job? A past trip or experience that has had an impact on you? Do you enjoy any particular films, media, technology? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you have a perfect topic to speak about! At Toastmasters, we want to learn about our members; why speak about your job or past? Even the smallest, most innocent things can become motivation speeches, you just have to know where to look, and Toastmasters can help you!
4. I don’t mind speaking, but I say several “Err”, “Ah”, “Um”, and other verbal clutter. How do I fix that?
Above all: practice. Like anything, the more you practice something the right way, the better at it you will be. When you are giving a speech or speaking, and someone rings a bell or hits the glass, don’t be discouraged by it. Chances are, that very person had the same thing done to him or her when they joined. It’s there to help you, not discourage you. The more you practice, however, the better you will become at picking up on the verbal clutter. Another idea would be to slow down in your speaking, or to use a small pause to your advantage.