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Say hello to Toastmasters International

22 Jan

In two recent posts, I discussed public speaking and glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. To conquer glossophobia, I recommend finding a local Toastmasters club. Toastmasters International is a non-profit organization that helps members develop their public speaking and leadership skills through practice and feedback in a local club. Toastmasters has more than 260,000 members in more than 12,500 clubs in 113 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. Toastmasters has more than 1,300 clubs in California. Meetings are not free; however, I think the low cost is certainly justifiable.

I was in Toastmasters twice. The first time, I completed 10 speeches and earned the Competent Toastmaster designation. I moved to a different zip code and found another club within walking distance. I completed another 15 speeches and achieved the Able Toastmaster designation. I understand the designations have different names now, but the point is I completed 25 speeches.

Meetings are fun and educational. Members give a 30-second introduction. They also participate in TableTopics, a part of the meeting when the leader calls on members at random to take the podium and speak for two minutes on a given topic. Imagine having the meeting leader look at you and say, “Here is your TableTopic: how do you know when your next career step is self-employment and not just another job?” The time you have to prepare is the time it takes you to rise from your chair and walk to the podium.

Meetings also have featured speakers. Two members present prepared speeches as lessons in their curriculum. If you are early in your Toastmasters training, you may find yourself presenting a four-to-six-minute speech on something you are passionate about. I was passionate about scuba diving and gave some of my best speeches on the subject.

When the featured speakers finish, their evaluators take the podium. Evaluators compare the speech presented to the objectives in the speaker’s curriculum. Evaluators usually follow the sandwich cookie approach: say something nice, say something that has to be improved, say something nice. I found this feedback very valuable. Where else can you go for valuable feedback presented in an open and friendly environment?

*****

Mark Anthony Germanos is the author of two books, Escape the Cubicle: How to leave your corporate or government job for something better and How to Make Computer Systems Work for You. He has faith in a slow but sure Sacramento business revival. Sacramento small business owners are leading the way. His second book, Escape the Cubicle, is for those who want to escape cubicle jobs and become successfully self-employed. Escape the Cubicle answers the questions: "How can I grow my business" and "How do I become my own boss."

Mark is the President of Cameron Park Computer Services. As a business owner and computer networking consultant, he has seen habits that successful Sacramento small business owners embrace. He helps Sacramento small business owners embrace those habits to increase their profits, efficiency and happiness. An advocate of Sacramento business revival, Mark believes everybody should run their lives like a small business, perform SWOT Analyses and use social media campaigns to improve business. He used to say “social media is stupid.” That was until he attended a conference and saw how Sacramento small business owners can use social media campaigns as a valuable tool. Since then, he has earned more than $40,000 in business via social media. His Sacramento small business clients also have five-figure returns. Sacramento small business owners that launch social media campaigns give themselves a comparative advantage over those who lag behind. Mark does not do everything, but his clients do receive great results and participate in the Sacramento business revival when they follow his advice.

Mark moved from Chicago and restarted his business in California with a cell phone and a Honda Civic. An active triathlete, he has a life, a dream wife and a dog. For additional details, visit http://markanthonygermanos.com. Twitter: http://twitter.com/markgermanos. Facebook: http://facebook.com/markanthonygermanos. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markgermanos.

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