I did it and I won!!!
I feel exhilarated.
I'm on cloud nine and though it happened last night - I still feel a great sense of accomplishment.
I joined Toastmasters International in January. It's a worldwide club where people from all walks of life and professions join to improve their communication, leadership, and public speaking skills.
I joined because I have a fear of public speaking which borders on phobia and my listening skills need A LOT of improvement.
Yesterday I gave my first speech which is called an "icebreakers speech". It's the first speech that new members deliver that gives an insight to your background and a better understanding of who you are. The speech can be anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes.
I decided less than two weeks ago that I would give my speech. I knew that if I set a later date, my nerves would get the best of me.
Yesterday morning I went to the gym and planned on going to work. I didn't have the energy. I felt emotionally drained. It was hard to focus on work. Though my speech wasn't scheduled until later that day - it was hard not to notice the clock.
The clock kept ticking faster towards my speech time. I kept thinking it would have been easier not to join - how nice it would be to curl up on the bed and read a novel to escape.
My stomach was in knots. Instead of working, I stayed in bed and slept until it was time to go.
I had RM and Moe drive me since I didn't trust myself to drive directly to Toastmasters. I'm pretty sure I would have made a detour to the local bakery.
I sat by one of the members who has been acting as a mentor. She asks me if I'm alright. The moment she asks me the question, I start to panic. I feel my eyes start to water and I'm ready to bolt into the bathroom and break down crying.
I take a few deep breaths and answer, "I'm going to be okay."
There were a couple of speakers in front of me - I had enough time to calm my racing heart and slowly started to relax.
The person conducting the meeting, introduces me and as I approach the lectern - I feel butterflies fluttering around my stomach. I take my time getting my notes together - take a few breaths and look into the audience....and begin.
I gave a general personal background and then I shared about my fear of public speaking and the physical toll that it takes for me to prepare for any type of speech. It was a speech straight from the heart.
After my speech - I received a loud applause. I was surprised by the enthusiasm and the hoots of approval I received!
I survived my first speech - I was going to be okay.
Towards the end of the meeting - everyone votes for the best speaker. Guess who won??!!
The person that evaluated my speech told me that in all the years that he's been in Toastmasters - I gave one of the best "ice breakers speech". I felt incredibly humbled and touched by the compliment.
Even if I didn't win - I felt like a winner just being up there and conquering my fear.
My goal in joining Toastmasters is to be an effective speaker and feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience. I know that any worthwhile goal is not going to be easy, but in the end it's worth it.
I still have a series of different types of speeches to complete which will take me about a little over a year to get my "Competent Communications" certificate.
Once that certificate is in my hands - I'm going to celebrate BIG!
I encourage anyone who wants to improve their speaking skills or just to be an overall great communicator - this is the organization to join. Click on this Toastmasters website to get more information. The organization is worldwide so there should be a club near you.
P.S. This is one of the reasons why its been a challenge to keep up my blogging!