Thursday, April 24, 2008
Greg Trine: On Toastmasters
Violets, have we got a treat for you today. Greg Trine, a fellow introverted author and the mastermind behind the Melvin Beederman books, bravely went where few Violets have gone before: he joined Toastmasters. Yes my friends, he committed to improving his public speaking skills and he’s here to give us the inside dish! So without further ado, heeeeere’s Greg...
You know you’re an introvert when...
...you walk to the front of the room for an SCBWI award and you’re so nervous you think your head is going to explode.
...you go to the prom with Gertrude Whusterflap because you can’t speak in the presence of any girl you really like.
...an employee at Macy’s Department Store undresses you instead of the mannequin you’re standing next to.
And so I joined Toastmasters. Here’s their vision statement:
Toastmasters International empowers people to achieve their full potential and realize their dreams. Through our member clubs people throughout the world can improve their communication and leadership skills and find the courage to change.
That’s exactly what I needed...courage...and lots of it. After all, I’d gone to the prom with Gertrude Whusterflap!
I went to toastmasters.org and found that there were Toastmasters clubs in my area meeting weekly, biweekly, and monthly. It was clear to me—based on my almost-head-exploding experiences—that I needed as much experience as possible. I joined a weekly club and haven’t missed a meeting in three years (well, almost).
Toastmasters is all about giving people the tools and the experience speaking in front of others. The only way to get comfortable speaking in front of people is to get up and speak in front of people. Being an introvert, I’d naturally avoid such situations. And this is where Toastmasters comes in—it gives me the speaking experience I need. There is no substitute for stage time. At a Toastmasters meeting, whether you’re delivering a planned speech, evaluating another’s speech, or emceeing the meeting, you are accumulating that stage time.
I view my Toastmasters club as my public speaking workshop. It’s where I go to try things out, to take risks—but mostly it’s about getting better at speaking because I’m putting myself in front of others on a regular basis. And it’s working. Since my first book was published in June of 2006 I’ve spoken at an SCBWI event, the International Reading Association conference in Toronto, the Texas Library Association conference, the California Reading Association conference, and dozens of school assemblies (and they like me...they really like me).
So far, so good...and I owe it all to Toastmasters. In my opinion, everyone can gain something from Toastmasters...they just don’t know it yet. To find a club near you go to Toastmasters.org.
Thank you Greg! (And let’s just hope ol’ Gertrude doesn’t google herself anytime soon!)