I’m sure many of us have been at a book launch, poetry reading, or art show where despite the fact that we were proud of the creativity of the author or artist and could identity with their work, we felt badly for them because they were having difficulty ”connecting” with their audience. This is often because creative people are introverts, and have difficulty standing up in front of a group and “putting themselves out there.”
That’s why I love Toastmasters, an international organization whose mandate is to help people from any and every background improve their public speaking, presentation, listening, and leadership skills.
I joined Toastmasters back in 2001, not because I was shy and was looking to gain confidence, but rather, because I knew that you could never get too good at public speaking and that I had much to learn to take my speaking abilities to the next level. As a writer and author, I knew it was becoming a part of my professional package of skills and services to be ready and able to make presentations on various subjects when asked, and that those presentations could earn me additional income and help me sell books.
As a feng shui enthusiast and someone who has written dozens of articles on the subject, I have given a series of feng shui presentations on cruiseships. As someone who sat on a national board whose focus is copyright, I have given several presentations on copyright. As someone who wrote a book about volunteerism, I have given numerous presentations about how to be a better volunteer. As a professional writer, I have given workshops to aspiring writers who would like to earn a living from their craft. And as a writer who focuses on travel writing, I have given presentations on how to market and sell articles with various takes on travel such as the presentation I am giving on September 22nd in Saskatoon at the Connect, Celebrate, and Collaborate conference being sponsored by the Professional Writers Association of Canada and Tourism Saskatchewan.
If you have any form of expertise you may be qualified to promote yourself as a workshop presenter, a keynote speaker, or a panelist at a conference. I know many speakers who earn a very healthy living from making presentations. I’ve not yet made my way to the top of the heap of coveted presenters, but I do generally charge in the area of $1,000 (plus expenses and developmental costs if applicable) for a one-day workshop and making presentations now forms a significant portion of my income stream.
So you’ve got the expertise to give workshops or presentations. But do you have the public speaking abilities? That’s where Toastmasters can really help. If you’ve found that any of these scenarios fit your situation, Toastmasters can and will help you:
- you are increasingly being asked to speak publicly on any given topic
- you want to run for public office or a position on a board
- you want to be able to promote your writing, art, photography, or other creative endeavour at public events
- you want to develop an income stream from giving workshops and making presentations
- you are likely to be asked to be an MC at a wedding, give a toast to the bride or groom, give a eulogy at a funeral
- you are involved in interpersonal communications as part of your job.
These are all situations where Toastmasters can help you, and if you happen to live in the South Interlake region of Manitoba, I’d like to invite you to join us at the new Irish Otter Coffee House in the Winnipeg Beach Plaza on September 28th at 2 pm for the Kick-Off meeting of the new Toastmasters in the Arts club. We’d love to meet you and help you become a better communicator in a fun and informal setting.
If you don’t live in the area but have benefitted from Toastmasters, please tell us about it. If you’ve been considering joining Toastmasters but have any doubts, I hope I’ve expelled them. And if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them.
Please join us back here the week of October 1st when I’ll share some of those travel writing tips we’ll be discussing in Saskatoon this weekend.