How are you all surviving this hot summer weather?? (For those of you in Tokyo anyway).
This was the theme for today’s Toastmasters meeting that I attended. “How to survive”. I recently joined the Aoyama Lunch Toastmasters Club here in Tokyo to work on my communications and leadership skills. For those of you who don’t know, a Toastmasters Club is a place where people get together to work on their public speaking skills, and to gain more confidence in speaking in front of an audience. People of all backgrounds and goals can join, and it is a very safe and fun learning environment! Personally, one of my biggest fears is talking in front of a group of people, so I thought to myself: What better opportunity to grow and gain more confidence than to working on and overcoming this fear?
I have to admit that it took me a while to muster up enough courage to apply for a membership at the Club. In order to become a member at Aoyama Lunch Toastmasters Club, you have to attend 2 meetings as a guest first. My first attendance was together with my husband right before the earthquake last year, as he had been recommended to check it out by one of the experienced members there. In all honesty, after that meeting, I was very intimidated by the high level of speaking ability and professionalism of all the members, and I thought that this would be too much for me. I was scared!
Then, after not thinking about Toastmasters at all for a year, it suddenly came to my mind again this past April, and I knew I needed to get over my fear and challenge myself to attend another meeting. This time by myself. I attended the second time as a guest in May, with more confidence and determination to keep going and to join the club. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I did! Although today was only the 3rd meeting as an official member, I am already learning a lot, and feel very privileged to be surrounded and welcomed by so many experienced and wonderful speakers.
I did my first “Ice breaker speech” last month to introduce myself to the other members. Although I was nervous, it was a great experience, and not as scary as I thought. After all, the subject of my speech was a very familiar one. The great thing about Toastmasters is that you can totally do things at your own pace, and you can decide yourself when to hold your next speech. Obviously, the more speeches you hold, the better you get, but there are also a lot of other roles you can take during the meetings, such as being a timer for those who are holding the speeches, evaluating the speeches, or Toastmaster of the Day etc. There are different difficulty levels of the roles, and you can slowly work towards taking on more higher responsibility tasks. Today, my role was to count the Um and Ah’s, or unnecessary fillers people used in their speeches and talks. It challenges your listening skills and ability to keep concentrated.
How about you? Have you ever attended any Toastmasters meeting? Or, have you recently started any new and fun (or perhaps scary) challenges for yourself?
I hope to hear from you.