Do one thing every day that scares you
— Eleanor Roosevelt

The first thing that probably crossed every person’s mind when hearing about a toastmasters club is ‘A group of students, with a passion in making toast.’ In fact, as you probably found out later, a toastmasters club is meant for people who are interested in improving their public speaking and communication skills. Almost every school in Singapore has a toastmasters club.

Master of toasting marshmallows

Master of toasting marshmallows

Public speaking is the act of performing a presentation or speech in front of a live audience. The objectives of a public speech can vary, from simply transmitting information, to motivating people to act or even just telling a simple story. As boring and irrelevant as it seems, public speaking is in reality, a skill that is valuable and beneficial.

Benefits

1.     Communication Skills

Being able to express yourself clearly and with the right social cues will impress your boss

Obviously, public speaking can drastically enhance your communication skills. From eye contact to body posture to speaking eloquently and clearly, these are the important aspects of communication that you will be able to obtain through learning public speaking. Communication skills are definitely needed to excel in schools and at the workplace. Being able to express yourself clearly and with the right social cues will impress your boss, signalling to him or her that you possess effective communication skills. 

2.     Critical Thinking Skills

thinking

As surprising as it seems, public speaking can enhance your critical thinking skills- something that is valuable at the workplace today. The process of writing your speech will exercise and strengthen your critical thinking skills as you will be researching in depth on your topic as well as the actual writing of your speech.

3.     Network

networking

Attending a public speaking workshop can help you to find like-minded individuals and expand your social and professional network. Being eloquent in public speeches also helps you to open up to people after your speech, using your speech topic as an initial conversational starter. In addition, the research work done before your speech may come into handy the next time the topic is brought up, and you will be able to chip in to the conversation and provide your insights into the topic!

How to start

If you are a student, you can always join your school’s toastmasters club as a start. The club will help you meet like-minded students and pick up such a skill together. The club will have lessons in public speaking and should provide opportunities to showcase your skills to a live audience.

If you are an adult, you can check out and sign up for public speaking lessons at your nearest community centres at a minimal fee.

Of course, you can also pick up the skill without the help of an instructor. Simply watch some videos with public speakers and notice their body language, tone and structure of speech. There are also free online courses that may help in honing such a skill. However, it is best if you are given the opportunity to practice it.

Glossophobia

No stage fright

No stage fright

Despite its benefits, public speaking remains one of the top 10 common fears in the world. Glossophobics, or those who fear public speaking, experiences the feeling of anxiety and may even sweat. This experience can also be known as stage fright. Many people from all walks of life, experience varying degrees of stage fright before presenting in front of a group of audience.

Thankfully, there are some ways which one can overcome this fear. Of course, enhancing your public speaking skill through workshops can boost your confidence in front of an audience. There are also a host of tips that you can follow before your speech or presentation to help ease those nerves such as a pep talk to yourself to help you focus or even doing a few jumping jacks just before the presentation!

I shall leave you with a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, a former first-lady of the United States: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I wish you all the best!