Wednesday, June 19, 2013

She Should Have Gone To Toastmasters

Have you ever been put on the spot and been asked a question that you weren't anticipating in front of an audience you were trying to impress?  Maybe it was during a staff meeting when your boss singled you out to report on a project.  Or perhaps it happened to you during a job interview.  Whatever your worst impromptu speaking blunder was, it probably wasn't as bad as Miss Utah from this past weekend's Miss USA pageant. 

These moments happen to everyone, though hopefully for most of us, not in front of a national audience.  There are only two ways for you to minimize the chances of bungling an impromptu speech and sounding like an idiot.

  1. Learn everything about EVERYTHING so that you can always sound intelligent, not matter what topic you are asked to speak on.
  2. Practice impromptu speaking so that you learn the structure of a short speeches, and develop improvisation skills.
The first, I can't help you with.  Unless you are Jeopardy wiz kid, Ken Jennings, you aren't likely to develop an encyclopedic memory while also juggling your day job, family, and all the other stuff that constitute "living."

The second way is easy.  Visit your local Toastmasters club.  For decades, Toastmasters International has been helping people develop the very skill of delivering impromptu speeches.  In Toastmasters lingo they are referred to as Table Topics, and all over the world, just about every Toastmasters meeting participants are challenged to give 1-2 minute speeches on subjects they know nothing about.  More accurately, they don't know what the topic will be until they are already standing at the lectern in front of the audience.

Table Topics often seem intimidating to the uninitiated, but Toastmasters quickly learn that they are one of the best tools to practice your speaking skills.  They are fun and often funny too, for both the speaker and the audience.

The absolute best way to improve your confidence and competence in public speaking is to practice in front of a live audience.  Toastmasters gives you this opportunity in a supportive atmosphere with no risk of looking like an idiot.  Visit your local Toastmasters club to learn more.  To find your local club, visit