If you said to me 20 years ago I would be going to a Church in Papanui on the first Tuesday of every month to practice my speaking skills, I would’ve looked at you like you are speaking dutch.
I’ve done a lot of public speaking training and at one point I was a member of Professional Speakers Association, Toastmasters and I was also a Rotarian. All three organisations helped me become a better public speaker and have given me more confidence when facilitating my business networking meetings, workshops and events.
I will admit the organisation that gave me the most value would have to be the Professional Speakers Association monthly meetings, it was a cut above the others. The people that attended were all professionals who were willing to share their experience, knowledge and skills. Most of them had speaking careers and the real value for me was when they started running an additional monthly meeting on a Friday morning, three hour training sessions. I learnt so many skills, like how to charge for your speaking engagements, how to structure a long speech using mind maps, how to conduct yourself when being filmed on camera and lots of other stuff I now take for granted.
Toastmasters was another organisation that totally consumed me for five years, I would recommend it to anyone. I had heard of it before, however I never really understood what Toastmasters was all about, I thought it was something to do with toast! Toastmasters is an educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills. They have around about 260 clubs in New Zealand and last count 30 clubs in Canterbury. Toastmasters gave me the ability to put together a speech in just a few minutes and deliver it with confidence, it truly has made me a better speaker today. I was active in three Toastmaster meetings each week and I also had the privileged position as the president of two of the clubs.
Rotary! Being a Rotarian is all about giving back to your community and it is pretty awesome. I did this for 5 years every Thursday. We would get together and have a meal. The club would have speakers who come along and often I would be asked if I could introduce the speaker and give some background on them. With the knowledge I learnt from the other organisations, I could do this with confidence, so being a Rotarian was a great way of me practising my new presenting skills.
These organisations are good for networking, this is why I call myself a connector. I have a large network of people I associate with and I’m now in the business of connecting people with people. However, one day thought I would stop them all and focus on the 10 business networking groups that I was facilitating each week.
So why have I got back into public speaking?
If you want to be a good public speaker it’s like being an athlete, you need to practice you need to keep yourself in the game. When I was invited to join an organisation a friend of mine was starting up, called Christchurch Speakers I thought “WHAT DE HEK” and I jumped at it. They meet once a month on the first Tuesday in a Church and being an ex-Jehovah’s Witness this could be freaky, however no lightning bolts yet so I’m doing okay.
The good thing about the Christchurch Speakers group is it’s never the same format, they run educationals, impromptu workshops, storytelling talks and my last talk was showing people how to use voice recognition to write a blog in real time.
It is low commitment, its monthly and it’s also affordable. The membership fee is $40 per year which helps to pay for the hall hire, tea & coffee and sometimes chocolate biscuits. The people who come along regularly range from entrepreneurs, business owners, buskers, professional speakers and of course me!
They started back in 2018. It’s not a large club and for this reason each person normally gets an opportunity to practice their speaking skills. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a meeting when there isn’t someone new coming along so it’s also very social. I always come away feeling good and I’ve also developed some new relationships and friends, maybe this sounds like you? If so reach out to me and I’ll give you an invitation.
I think every professional person needs to be involved in some type of personal development, these type of organisations have certainly helped me become a better version of myself. It’s important for you to put yourself out there and I truly believe you need to walk the talk as a business leader and everyone benefits from personal development.
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