I always thought Toastmasters was like one of those quaint support-group esque membership organizations, in the same category as Boy Scouts, Rotary clubs, and Alcoholics Anonymous. And indeed, some quick Googling reveals they were all founded in the early 1900’s.
I like public speaking, having done an Ignite talk and spoken at my high school graduation, but I think I could get a lot better. I’m particularly bad at off-the-cuff speaking – I tend to freeze up and sound neither natural nor professional. I remember once looking around for Toastmasters clubs when I lived in the Bay Area, but they were never very convenient to get to and it seemed like a big commitment.
In our Smithsonian new employee orientation they had a packet with all kinds of things, including an invitation to join the Smithsonian’s Toastmasters club. It happened to meet 2x a week right in my building on another floor during lunch so it would be super easy to get to. Given I’m only going to be around for six months, I figure I gotta make the most of all these “corporate perks” so I decided to join up.
I’ve been to four meetings and it’s been a great experience. The structure is pretty straight forward:
- The meeting starts at 12:05pm.
- The Sergeant in Arms calls the meeting to order.
- The Toastmaster of the Day introduces each of the three speakers to the podium.
- There’s a “table topics” session for impromptu statements (kind of like a Miss America on-the-spot Q&A)
- The General Evaluator introduces each of the three speech evaluators,
- There’s the report from the Time Keeper and the Ah/Um Grammarian
- Any final house keeping announcements are made.
- The meeting is adjourned at around 12:55. Continue reading…