Toastmasters: Like Father Like Son

I have mentioned in the past my guest blog post on Susan Cain’s Power Of Introverts site about my positive experience in Toastmasters.  I overcame my fear of public speaking thanks to Toastmasters!  I am not sure if my blog post encouraged anyone to give Toastmasters a try, but I know of one person it influenced – my son.

Josh is an introvert like me.  For his senior class project he was asked to come up with a proposal that would be a stretch for him.  After hearing of the impact Toastmasters had on my life Josh decided to take a similar step.  “I often have trouble speaking in front of even a class of people, and I want to overcome that fear,” Josh wrote.  “I also know that speech and communication skills are necessary for almost any possible career path that I can enter.  In the future, when I need to make a presentation or lead a group of people, I am
certain that the skills I learn from this project will aid me immensely.”

Josh found a nearby Toastmaster club, visited a couple of times, and joined right after his 18th birthday.  Walking into a club of 20+ adults must have been scary at first, but Josh was warmly welcomed.  He got his first taste of speaking in front of the group with a short one minute impromptu speech.  That went well, but the big test was to come – the 5 to 7 minute icebreaker speech!

Josh was nervous the night before the speech.  “Write a blog about it,” I told him.  “Say exactly what you are feeling before the speech in words, and then right after the speech tell people how it went.”  I told him of another introverted high school student, Brittany Wood, who described her Toastmaster experience in her excellent blog The Shyness Project.

Josh’s first speech was a big success!  He came home smiling and telling us how the speech went much better than he thought it would.  He received many evaluations (pictured above) with words of encouragement and constructive criticism on how to improve.  And Josh did take my suggestion to write about the experience – you can read his before and after first speech thoughts on his Mastering Toastmasters blog.

“This project is a learning stretch for me because I am in no way comfortable right now speaking in front of a large group of people.  I have done (school) presentations and similar speeches, but I have always been nervous beforehand and not satisfied with the end result,” Josh wrote in his class project  proposal.  “This project will bring me way out of my comfort zone by putting me in front of a group of people that I don’t even know to give speeches to.  It will be a hard transition, but I know that in the end my leadership and communication skills will be miles better than they are now.”

You are well on your way to becoming a good speaker, Josh!  And it brings a smile to this Dad’s face to see his son have a positive experience with Toastmasters just like I did 30 years ago.

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