Confident public speaking: Toastmasters International


Heartbeat accelerating. Knees wobbly. Palms sweaty. Hands shaky. You are standing in front of your audience ready to deliver your talk. Ready? Of course you’re not ready! You are panic-stricken! You know that your trembling voice will give you away. You are afraid of failure and of exposing yourself to ridicule. You are dead-tired after a merciless night of restless tossing and turning resulting in your worst-ever bad-hair day. Your urge to escape is virtually untamable.

The fears of speaking in public (Glossophobia) are manifold. Fact is, that they won’t go away by allowing them to thrive. Yet, there’s remedy for the brave: Building up one’s confidence by adopting the proper techniques and by honing one’s communication, speaking and presentation skills, does work wonders! Good to know that even the best of speakers were once terrified novices who eventually succeeded in pacifying their jittery nervous system.

Been procrastinating? Determined to leave your comfort zone now?

Joining the worldwide network of Toastmasters International, a non-profit organisation teaching public speaking and leadership skills, could be the first step in conquering the most dreaded hurdles.Those who have finally resolved to seriously practice their eloquence, cultivate their rhetoric ability plus simultaneously train their leadership qualities, may have found a stimulating and reassuring haven. They will be taught platform-tested techniques for survival on (and off) stage and be encouraged to add to their talks a well-dosed dash of humour, where appropriate.

Shedding one's inhibitions in a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere.

Shedding one’s inhibitions in a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere.

The no-pressure atmosphere helps ease initial tension, as no superior authority will be casting an intimidating eye on – or be giving rigid instructions to – the group. Instead, learning-by-doing reliably does the magic trick. And by evaluating each other’s presentations, participants develop skills in listening, giving constructive feedback, decision-making, delegating and mentoring in their stride.

Where does the name Toastmasters derive from?
A “toastmaster” proposed the toasts and introduced the speakers at a banquet.

A brief history
Toastmasters came to be in a plain basement of a YMCA building in Santa Ana, California back in 1924. Founder Ralph C. Smedley had observed youngsters speak and decided that they definitely needed hands-on support „in the art of public speaking and in presiding over meetings“. His goal was to create a global organisation where communication and leadership skills could be trained in an informal atmosphere similar to the one in a social club. Hence, the group was named “The Toastmasters Club”. Soon other communities – and states – initiated their own sessions. By 1930, Toastmasters had evolved into Toastmasters International. Today, more than 313,000 members in over 14,650 clubs in 126 countries constitute the organisation. Headquarters are located in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.

What else there is to know about Toastmasters, what they offer in detail, where in the world existing groups are to be found and useful info on membership fees etc. are indicated here:

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All images courtesy of ©Toastmasters International