Today, at our monthly SCBWI meeting, Toastmaster graduate, Randy Lamb, shared tips on public speaking. This meeting was helpful since I will be speaking at two SCWBI fall conferences (No, I haven't began to prepare).
Randy gave great advice; his best point, I thought, was to use storytelling. In the past, I've made the mistake of trying to memorize my talks word-for-word, and when I do that, they don't turn out very well. My nerves cause me to forget what I’ve practiced, which makes me even more nervous, which makes me forget what I’ve practiced, and the cycle continues. The last time I spoke to our local illustrators, that happened to me. This time, I will share my personal experiences in the form of stories. As illustrators — and authors, hopefully — they will relate better to personal stories, than to my babbling on point-by-point.
Toastmasters is a great way to improve your public speaking skills. Groups meet frequently, and members take turns presenting speeches, or discussing impromptu topics. Each required speech focuses on a different tool for making a presentation. Then members offer feedback.
I've been meaning to join Toastmasters for quite some time. The wife and I were going to join together years ago, back home in Des Moines, but I chickened out. It’s not so much the prepared speeches that freak me out, it’s the impromptu discussions. If I were asked to stand up in front of a group, and spontaneously speak on the subject of, say, the war in Afghanistan, I’d just die.
When we moved to Austin, we discussed joining Toastmasters again. She joined, I didn't. Now, she's given her required 10 speeches, and is an official Toastmaster. And I still cringe at the thought.