(Alas, there was no champagne. People were plenty bubbly though.)
I like most of the things that Steve Pavlina does. Apart from his more kinky interests, he is kind of a role model to me; I don’t know anyone who has reached so much in terms of self-development & productivity. I think that’s really cool. So Rolemodel Steve often refers to Toastmasters, which is an organization that teaches people both leadership skills as public speaking in bi-weekly meetings, all over the globe.
I myself was especially interested in the public speaking part: I might have to give some lectures next school year as well as do some workshops/crazy self help teaching. I’m not terrible, but I’d love to become even better. So I decided to Google That Shit and found out they have a Toastmasters’ Club in my very own Rotterdam! They meet up every two weeks in a location 15 minutes away from me! I emailed them I was coming and Tuesday night I walked into a messy classroom to find the Toastmasters.
What happens during a meeting is this: First, you have your introductions and announcements. Up next is the Grammarian. That’s a member who takes the stage, sharing the Word of the Day and encourages the speakers to use it in their speeches and also empathizes he’s going to be taking notes on people’s language. Next up there’s Table Topics: A host comes up with a topic or questions and three or four people have to improvise a 3-minute speech. Afterwards, the Prepared Speeches begin.
Finally their is an evaluation round of the speakers & the entire meeting. There is a General Evaluator, a Uh & Ah Counter (that shit is insane – once you hear it, you cannot unhear it), the Grammarian and the Time Keeper. They all take turns evaluating and then afterwards, the meeting is closed and you can go have a drink in the cafeteria downstairs.
I listened to two speeches: One about cultural differences and a very, very interesting one that was called ‘Lean is Mean’ that talked about the short-sighted economic scope people uphold today when it comes to big companies and all their downsizing. The woman was very passionate about it, talked with some gorgeous, English phrasing.
They welcomed me with open arms, explained everything well. There was another newbie too: A very kind, 23-year old chemist who was carrying some of my favorite Steve Pavlina articles about Discipline around with him! We discussed our mutual idol Steve and I tipped him on Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog.
The vibe was very easy-going and totally not as formal as I expected. To be completely honest with you I would have liked a little more structure (but since the meetings are led by different members each time, this might vary). What pushed me towards going again was taking a peek at the Course Material, now that I loved. Structured, easy and containing lots of information. You can basically go two ways: Competent Leader or Competent Communicator. This is like First Level of Toastmaster Mastery. If I’m joining I’d be focusing on Competent Communicator, although I might combine them.
But hey, I’m just going to back in two weeks and see if I’m still leaning towards joining. And I already recommend it to anyone who wants to get better at public speaking or leading a meeting: It’s cheap, very laid-back vibe and I think you can learn a lot there. But if I get to be in charge one day, champagne is going to be mandatory.