What Have You Got To Lose–Your Fear?

I apologize for the blogging gap. I was traveling to the southern end of the state to meet with the officers of Toastmasters clubs for their bi-annual officers training. I’m a Division Governor in the Toastmasters organization, but before you get too impressed, it is a totally volunteer position and costs me more than I’m reimbursed for.

Why do it then? Why take time away from my printing career to something that produces negative cash flow? I joined Toastmasters almost three years ago. My purpose was to learn public speaking and presentation skills to help me expand my capabilities. You see, I thought, and I still do, that companies who buy printing would like to have access to the knowledge I’ve accumulated over the years. If I could share with their buyers what I know, I could cut the learning curve from 40 years down to maybe one afternoon. Of course that is an impossibility, but I could do what I’ve always done on a larger scale. Teach people about the ins and outs of publishing and print production.

My concern was that I might get in front of an audience and be awkward, boring, or even worse, too embarrassed to speak. When I get embarrassed, and this is difficult for me to admit, my face turns bright red. I’m not talking hot pink. I’m talking four-alarm firetruck red. I swear satellites could pick up the glow. For anyone having similar fears I can heartily recommend Toastmasters, www.toastmasters.org.

Toastmasters has been around for some eighty years and has developed programs to teach public speaking and leadership that really, really work. And believe it or not, it is very inexpensive to join. I pay $20.00 every six months, plus club dues of $6.00. That’s it. You start with two manuals, one containing 10 lessons on public speaking and the other is a leadership manual. I have seen literal transformations in people usually midway through the first manual. Five or Six speeches, concentrating on the learning steps, and voila a frightened mouse becomes confident, enthusiastic, and interesting. It is a WOW moment.

I love it. I get a rush from helping people improve their lives. One of our club members, Jeremy Strebel says, “Toastmasters is personal development on steroids.” He is right.

So why be a Division Governor? Why not just be a club member? Like I said Toastmasters learned over the last eighty years that you can’t really be a good speaker if you aren’t a good leader. Good leaders motivate. Good leaders have dreams and convey their visions to others. The question then is can you be a good leader without being a good public speaker? I don’t think so. If you can’t move people to act on the strength of your words, you aren’t a leader. Sure you might have a leadership title, but you aren’t a real leader of men.  So, I climbed the leadership ladder from club Treasurer, to VP of Education, to President. My club came alive and the progress was not unnoticed at the District level, so they tapped me to become a Division Governor. In my experience, leaders accept roles in spite of their deep seated fears that they aren’t good enough. No one is good enough, wise enough, or prepared enough for leadership. You just take it on, do the best that you can, and pray that you’ve been of some value to others. That’s what I do, and it seems to be working.

The Toastmasters website is in this blog and I’ll add it to my blog roll. I’ll also add the website of my club, Precision Speakers. Check them both out and see if Toastmasters can help you gain confidence and personal power. And help you brush up your interviewing skills, and make better presentations. What have you got you got to lose? Your fear?

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