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Sit Up! Speak! Rules of Engagement

Guest post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess

Picture1I was recently inspired by my accountability partner, Anne McAuley, to get out of my comfort zone and attend a Toastmaster's meeting. No, she didn't urge me to attend one but I listened to her award-winning speech and realized I've never had any formal training and hey, it can't hurt, right? 

With a bit of trepidation I walked into the 7 am meeting of the AM Lockport Toastmaster's group feeling a bit intimated by the number of people that had braved the snow and frigid temps to attend. I stood by myself, surveying the room for about 10 seconds before I was welcomed and drawn into the chatter of the group. I was welcomed with open arms and invited to sit at the table of the gentleman who was doing the Table Topics — I later learned these were impromptu topics upon which a victim — I mean, member– would have to speak for up to two minutes (I think, I was fuzzy on the time limits) 

I basked in the camaraderie of the group, enjoyed the speeches, clapped for everyone and everything and soaked up the knowledge of the group as they evaluated the speakers. Little did I know that the guests would be invited to the podium to give their evaluation of the meeting! What?! 

I learned from the AH Master that saying, "um" and "so" and "and" and "well" were not great parts of of a speech so naturally when I was called upon I said an "um" and a "so" but I pointed out my faux pas before they did (not sure if that counts, but!) 

What's the point of this? How will this help my fellow pet bloggers and why should you care? First, if you want to grow your reach and expand to be more than a pet blogger you need to learn how to present yourself and your ideas. When called upon in a crowd or a networking event you need to be able to articulate — whether you're talking about yourself or a particular topic or question that's tossed your way. Second, you don't exist in a vacuum, do you? If you're hoping to become a known entity in the pet blogging industry you need to have a physical as well as a virtual presence. 

As a long-time speaker, I have never had formal training. I plan to grow my speaking business this year and expand into other topic areas and because of this I feel I need to learn how to speak in a more articulate manner and what better way than to attend Toastmasters?

How comfortable are you with public speaking? Consider public speaking anything from an intimate dinner party to a rousing group of table mates at BlogPaws 2013. Will your voice be heard? What can you do to step out of your comfort zone and be heard?  

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  1. I have been a Toastmaster for years and I have to say that joining this organization is one of THE best things I have ever done for myself. You learn so much, grow so much and have fun doing so. Such a safe and welcoming environment indeed. Thank you so much Robbi for this article. I hope it will encourage others to check out their local Toastmasters Club.

  2. I love public speaking and never really have a problem with it unless it is a topic of which I unfamiliar LOL. However, doing radio and tv appearances has helped me immensely. I also have given presentations and seminars. Like anything, the more you do, the better and more comfortable you get.
    Good article, Robbi!

  3. I miss Toastmasters. It was a wake-up call to me… timing and remembering not to say “um” were key points I learned quickly! Not that I don’t still do them… sad to say.

  4. I’ve found that public speaking is a sport best learned by playing. Toastmasters is a great safe field for practicing and receiving feedback.
    Thanks for sharing Robbi!

  5. I agree — I am good with a prepared speech so I will be on pins and needles this Thursday waiting to see if I get called upon for a Table Topic (impromptu speech) gulp!

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