Thursday, June 24, 2010

Knowing Toastmasters

Public speaking was found in a research study to be as number one the most scaring moment or job to be faced. Being in front of people can be very terrifying and really will stimulate sympathetic action like sweating, feeling nervous and etc in human body.

Most people think that speaking in front of crowd is something ridiculous and won't be done even they are paid for it. Usually, people think that only certain people in this world are given the ability to go for public speaking.

Interestingly, based on a study, ability of public speaking is not widely associated with the genetic matter. The fact is, the ability to speak in front of people is gained through consistent and progressive training from time to time. It is strongly believed that all people are dare to go for public speaking if they are trained, well prepared and have correct perceptions towards public speaking.

Well, if public speaking ability is not a genetic matter, and can be gained through training, it will be good enough if we can do it. Imagine that if we can do public speaking, it seems that we have eliminated the no 1 most scaring job to be done in our life. And most of all, we have nothing to scare on top of everything!

It sounds good, but how to train ourselves so that we can be a good speaker? Is there any opportunity for us to get the public speaking training? The answer is about finding for the right environment. An environment that is encouraging for us to speak in front of people is vital for the training process.

Toastmasters international is a non-profit organization that provides activities to improve speaking, communication and leadership skills. Getting the basic info from a friend, Alia Nadhirah, I tried to find a toastmasters club to know deeper how it works.

Yesterday night, I had an opportunity to join Johor Jaya Toastmaster Club meeting as a guest. They have regular meeting on every 2nd & 4th Wednesday of the month at Jalan Molek 2/1, Taman Molek, Johor Bahru with the Club Theme: The Courage To Conquer. The meeting was started at 7.30pm sharp and I arrived there around 7.40pm.

The first time I entered the premise, the Vice President Education (VPE), Joyce Phu, CC, as Toastmaster of the evening was giving her opening speech and introduction. I was warmly welcomed by the the Intermediate Past President (IPP), Ng Chee Hau, CTM, and was given a seat. The place was clean, tidy, air-conditioned and well comfortable. The meeting was held using a U-shaped of table arrangement and few chairs were placed behind for the guests or visiting toastmaster members. All members are addressed as toastmasters, and basically no Sir, Mr, Ms or other titles are allowed.

They have a program called Word of the day. A toastmaster will stand up and announce the word, which is "Embrace" and followed it with the all related meanings taken from a thick dictionary. Toastmasters are encouraged to use the word during their speech. And once a toastmaster mentioned Embrace within his/her speech, a sound would be alarmed by all the other toastmasters showing that they are alert that the word has just been used. This is really a great system to encourage people to use new vocabulary for their daily communication.

Then they proceeded with Table Topics session. This is a very interesting session where members were asked to volunteer to give a spontaneous speech. For example, you volunteer to give a speech and come to the front. You will be given a statement or question. Without any pre-preparation to be done, you need to deliver your thoughts in around two minutes. Example of the questions were How many siblings do you have?; BMW and Mercedes Benz, which one do you prefer?; Talk about Happy Father's Day and What is your favorite football team in the world cup 2010?.

This was a very challenging moment because we came unprepared and were forced to give a speech in front of unfamiliar individuals. However, this really trained us to think fast to get some ideas, arrange them in mind and just start speaking! Not only that, there were a timer keeper,

language evaluator and "Ah" counter toastmasters supervising our speech and try to detect as many mistakes that we did during the speech. It can be a real fear. Are you dare to face it alone?

After a short break, the session was proceeded with Prepared Speeches. 3 toastmasters were ready to present their speeches. Depends on their level following the toastmaster manual book, the toastmasters speakers needed to apply all the good technics that they have learnt such as the body gestures, vocal/tone control, how to grab audience attention, how to add some humor in speech and also to control the speech so that less mistakes were done. They were really good speakers and I could see that all are based on training matter. They applied all the technics they have learnt and they produced moderate to excellent speeches for the audience. I enjoyed their presentations.

Then, the evaluation session took place where 3 other toastmasters were invited to the front and gave comments to the previous 3 speakers. I could see how good the evaluation session was done where they started to identify good values in the speakers' speeches and followed by the suggestion and recommendation on how to improve the speeches. This is a really good system where we can learn directly from the evaluation and we are able to know where to correct our speech. The environment was really encouraging!

The clock showed around 9.25pm and the meeting was at the end time. Before that, they had a award presentation for the best speaker, the best prepared speech speaker and the best evaluator. Lastly, the meeting was ended with a closing speech.

Now I have a clearer view on how Toastmaster works and I had a really2 great first impression on it. I hope that I have the opportunity to join such clubs and gain the training for public speaking, self-improvement. Important thing to note is, most of them are not perfect in speaking, but they did their best and help each other to improve in interesting and interactive ways. That's the beautiful thing about Toastmasters system.

For those who interested to know about Toastmasters, this is the link:

Ohya, in Johor Jaya Toastmaster Club, the membership is RM380 per annum plus RM85 for the new membership kit fee. I think it's reasonable and affordable comparing to the experience and the environment that we will get. However, the membership fees at each Toastmasters club may vary due to the premise rental and administrative purposes. I'm thinking to go for MIM Toastmaster KL meeting as a guest soon and see how it is handled. As I will have another one academic year in cyberjaya, I hope that I can do something to improve my communication ability. InsyaAllah.

We will see and that's all for now! =D


Anonymous said...

Interesting =)

Nizam Malek on July 8, 2010 at 9:54 PM said...

Interested? =)

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