Let’s face it, the fear of public speaking is right up there at the top of the phobia league.
January is traditionally a time for setting new goals. Often people choose to face something that they have previously found impossible. Unsurprisingly the Speechcraft course we host at Speakers of Croydon for new speakers always attracts a lot of interest.
This year we are delighted to host six intrepid Speechcrafters, all determined to get over their public speaking nerves. The club comes together over four weeks so experienced members can help others become the best speakers they can.
Speechcraft is designed to boost confidence and improve communication, public speaking and leadership skills. Students are often motivated by upcoming job interviews, important presentations or speeches at family occasions.
The Toastmasters environment is safe and encouraging. Those who have been put off by criticism and fear of failure in the past are inspired to have a go, knowing that they will receive friendly and helpful advice.
Each Speechcrafter is assigned a Guide who assists and mentors them during their Speechcraft journey. The students have access to all the course content online so they are able to prepare for sessions at their own pace.
Last Tuesday Speakers of Croydon hosted the first of four consecutive weekly sessions. After a short welcome from our Club President our Speechcraft Co-Ordinator asked each student to introduce one of their peers. This was an easy and effective way to break the ice and allowed each person to have a try at facing their on-screen audience.
Next, our six new speakers were invited to make a very short impromptu speech. Our Table Topics Master asked an experienced Toastmaster to demonstrate first. He had cleverly pitched the questions so that each person had a great chance of having something to say. They did not disappoint! We heard about six diverse subjects including motivation, gardening and how to express your feelings.
The session incorporated two short educational presentations. Both were given by experienced club members and covered ‘Selecting a Speech topic’ and ‘How to Organise your Speech’. The Speechcrafters are tasked with writing and presenting short Icebreaker speeches for our next meeting. I saw several people furiously taking notes.
Constructive evaluation is a large part of what Toastmasters is about. We were fortunate to have two guests from other clubs who evaluated the educational material and the meeting as a whole. This allowed our Speechcrafters to get a feel for effective evaluation, a skill they will be encouraged to practise.
At the end of the meeting our President invited our budding speakers to comment on how they found their first session. Optimistic, upflifting and great fun were a few of the words used, and people were definitely looking forward to the next session.
Come to that, so was I.
Onwards and upwards!
By Trudy Kuhn – SoC VPE