Joining Toastmasters was one of the best business decisions I made. It helped me to become a better communicator and learn the things I never bothered to learn in school about public speaking. I also met some great folks, and that is simply priceless.
Here is the problem, however. I am now ruined because I can’t listen to most people speak. These are people who are supposed to be professional communicators, but I now realize that nearly every fifth word is a verbal pause (“ahh”, “umm”, “you know” or the like.) If you take note, you will hear that many professionals struggle with their words and let you know it by the consistent verbal pauses they use.
- Politicians (ok, I really want to say The President).
- Other speakers
- People giving “elevator pitches”
It’s ALL AROUND US! And until I joined Toastmasters, I never even realized it.
The worse of them all is when I catch myself doing the same thing because I know it’s simply annoying. Sadly, we work schedule has recently taken me away from my local Toastmasters group and I have caught myself on occasion with a dreadful verbal pause or two. It makes me thankful for what I have learned and desirous to get back to the group.
I would encourage every professional to visit a local Toastmasters club. It’s free to visit and can only benefit you. Mastering the art of oral communications will give you more opportunities, but will help you conquer one of the biggest fears that plagues mankind. That fear is glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking.
I no longer fear public speaking; I fear using a verbal pause while speaking or having car trouble on the way to a speaking engagement. 🙂