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... walk to the front of the room for an SCBWI award and you’re so nervous you think your head is going to explode. go to the prom with Gertrude Whusterflap because you can’t speak in the presence of any girl you really like. 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 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

Thank you Greg! (And let’s just hope ol’ Gertrude doesn’t google herself anytime soon!)


Anonymous said...

I was an actress in my former life (okay, this one) but I still get really nervous just being myself, so I decided to join Toastmasters as soon as we moved to the new town we'd been planning to move to. We've now been here six months. Thanks for the nudge...I'll screw up my courage and find a group. Right now. Really. Seriously. I can do this! Thanks!


Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Congratulations, Greg! And I loved that mannequin joke.

Mary Hershey said...

Hi, Greg! Thanks again for being a guest blogger with us. Great info about Toastmasters.

Amen re: stage time. Very important.

And, a-hem, anything you'd care to announce here????

Mary Hershey

Anonymous said...

I truly relate to Greg Trine and his struggles with public speaking. I’m sending a HUGE hug to him for being so brave in tackling this challenge head on. I looked into Toastmasters some time back, and even selected a location near my house. And then I gasped and made up a bunch of excuses for myself . . . .

We’ll see. Maybe I’ll give it a go this summer.

Anonymous said...

I called. My first meeting is on Thursday. I have to take a ferry which is always a good excuse to stay home...but I'll try! Thanks again for the nudge.


Mary Hershey said...

Joelle! Strong work! We'll be thinking about you on Thursday.

Ferry away, matey!

Mary Hershey