Public Speaking has always been part of my ambition, perhaps not professionally, but to be able to clearly and concisely state your thoughts is a great asset. So, back in the 80's I was in a Public Speaking Club known as ITC (International Training in Communication). It was really great and I enjoyed it a lot. One way and another I moved around and did not continue with it.
Then in August 2011 when I lived in China, I learned that there was an English language Toastmasters (TM) Club on the other side of town. I so enjoyed it that I was enthusiastically involved in establishing a club on our side of town. I loved the program and the challenges that it gave me. And of course, being one of the English speakers in the Club, also had an advantage over those who were using English as a foreign language. I maintained my membership until in 2012 I had to return to Australia.
It was a while before I found a permanent place to live, but as soon as I did, finding a TM club was one of my priorities. I have over the years advanced through the educational program and am getting close to the top now.
Last week I was scheduled for a very challenging speech. I did not know what I was to speak about until I was told just before I got up to the lectern. The project in the manual that I am working through, was called, Impromptu Speaking. This meant that I basically had to speak OFF THE CUFF. Well, it wasn't that bad. I had to provide five topics that I would be able to speak on and the evaluator blindly selected one of those for me to speak on. So, no detailed notes or practice as part of the preparation.
My topics were: ESL in China; Brain Injury in Life; The Cycling Alternative; Small Space Gardening; Learning a New Language. I figured I would be able to speak for seven minutes on any of those. The one that was read out to me was The Cycling Alternative, and as I am a cyclist, I had plenty to say. I covered the convenience, official policies, safety and much more. My speech was praised, which delighted me.
And, if you feel shy and would like to be able to speak up in front of people, I urge you to get into a Public Speaking Club like Toastmasters, and in a safe and friendly atmosphere, make all your mistakes and learn before you are called upon in a public situation. Have fun!