Where's the Motivation?

When anyone first come to a toastmasters meeting, it is usually because they want to be able to stand up in front of other people and express themselves confidently, because one thing is for sure – speaking to a gathering of your own species is utterly terrifying.

When I first visited Toastmasters, I was amazed. Different types of people at different levels of confidence and competence just getting up and speaking– and they seemed to be enjoying themselves in the process. This is just what I had been seeking.  I signed up as a member and embarked on the Communications and Leadership program.

By the time you complete just ten speeches based on the projects in this manual, you will have earned your CTM; you will be a Competent Toastmaster. In a supportive and friendly environment, you will have acquired confidence in your speaking skills, you will have a whole new network of friends, and you will have improved your prospects in the job market.

So why is it that with an average membership of 50-60 members – most of whom aren’t here tonight, City of London Toastmasters hasn’t had one single member achieve CTM in the past year, with most of the club nowhere near achieving it?

What happens along the way to your CTM? Why do you seem to run out of steam after the first few speeches? Where does the enthusiasm go? Why have you lose sight of your CTM goal?

This puzzles me so much because it didn’t happen to me. I seem to be if not unique then certainly unusual. I completed my CTM in just over twelve months and, in the next couple of months, I’ll have achieved my Advanced Bronze award. I’m not bragging. This is not a major achievement. Achieving CTM is the basic goal of every toastmaster.

What’s different about me? I’m certainly no less busy than anyone else, and it can’t be that I’m hugely goal-driven or I’d be the exact weight I’d like to be!

Firstly, I come regularly to meetings and I take part. It’s actually part of the Toastmasters Promise, right here on page three: to attend Club meetings regularly; and to prepare for and fulfil meeting assignments. Most of our members just don’t do that. I understand. I’m overwhelmed with inertia before most meetings, but I drag my unwilling self here all the same – promising myself I’ll stay till the nine o’clock and then go home. Then I get here, have a great time, and I’m usually one of the last to leave.

Regular active attendance is a twofold treasure: you witness the growth of other members, seeing them gain confidence and actually start enjoying public speaking; and, since there’s no point in belonging to a speech club and keeping quiet, you do a table topic, or evaluate someone, or the Toastmaster chucks a stopwatch at you and tells you you’re the last minute timekeeper, and you can’t help but improve your own speaking skills.

The other thing about me? I’ve asked members why they’ve stalled and, for the most part, it isn’t work pressures or such, it is simply that they can’t think what to speak about – the oral equivalent of writer’s block – whereas I seem to have a bottomless well of speech ideas.

It isn’t difficult. You will have an opinion on any given subject and you will be able to give it your own slant, based on your own experience of life. Talk about what you know – and if you don’t know, find out.

Back up your opinions with research.   Research can change the whole perspective of a speech. I almost came a cropper with my number 10 speech. I’d centred it on a well-known goal-setting story, only to discover in the course of my research that the poll it was based on hadn’t even happened, and I had to alter the direction of my speech.

You will find ideas everywhere. Just using a newspaper, for example: [examples taken from today’s newspaper]

So remember why you became a toastmaster. Be an active member. Attend meetings regularly Speak at every opportunity. And always be on the look out for subject matter, because you’re next speech is right in front of you.

Comments:

Well, they deserved it! Sometimes you just have to get your stick out and beat people. The problem was, of course, that the people who needed to listen to this speech weren't there, as usual! The speech seemed to go down well with the audience, though, and there were a few sheepish faces looking back at me.

You'll be pleased to hear that our president, Michele Wong, did- at long last - deliver her tenth speech a month later to achieve her a CTM. Not only that, she did it so well that she received a standing ovation with a truly inspiring speech.

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