I never wanted God's message to be hindered by my delivery.
In my quest to further develop my speaking ability, I attended the Christian Communicators conference in Asheville, North Carolina. This dynamic, exhausting, exhilarating, empowering 5-days of training just whetted my appetite.
Then my friend Kim Jackson, accomplished speaker and founder of Elder Orphan Care, recommended Toastmasters International.
I'd heard of Toastmasters, but knew little about it. I pictured a bunch of stodgy, middle-aged white men presenting boring speeches to sleepy colleagues. Not quite what I had in mind. "I LOVE Toastmasters," she said, and since she wasn't a stodgy, middle-aged, white man who gave boring speeches, I sat up and took notice. "It's the best ongoing speaker training I've ever had. And it's inexpensive."
The words best and inexpensive seldom appear in the same sentence in my world, so her endorsement added extra credibility to her recommendation.
I did a web search on Toastmasters International and discovered that there were 31 Toastmasters clubs within a 25-mile radius of Columbia. Plenty from which to choose. I selected the club that met in a location and at a time that best fit my schedule and emailed the president. The next week, I visited, and I've been attending ever since.
While I expected good training, I never thought it would be so much fun.
Unlike my early mental picture, Columbia Toastmasters 1393 is comprised of people of all ages, stages, ethnicities, and genders. Our members are housewives, city leaders, healthcare workers, and students. Each member has different interests, passions, and personalities that come out in their formal and informal speaking, which makes every meeting an adventure.
After three years, I agree with my friend Kim, Toastmasters is the best ongoing speaker training I've ever experienced.
But what if you're not interested in being a women's ministry speaker? You still need Toastmasters.
Why? Because of 1 Peter 3:15. God commands all believers, "Be ready always to give a reason for the hope that lies within you. . ."
Whether you ever set foot on a stage, you are a public speaker. Every day you interact with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, customers, and strangers. And every day you communicate with them.
Whether you communicate well or you communicate poorly determines, in large part, the success of your relationships. And of your witness. And who doesn't want to have better relationships and a better witness?
Toastmasters International is about more than just learning to present a formal speech in front of a group. It's about maximizing every opportunity we have to share the message that's most important to us.
For many of us, that's Jesus--what he's done for us, and what he can do for others.
I never want God's message to be hindered by my delivery. How about you?
For more information on Toastmasters International and to find a club in your area, click here. Read about it, then visit a club. It doesn't cost a thing to check it out, and it just might change your life. And someone else's.
Earlier this year I competed in the 2016 Toastmasters International Speech Competition. I won at the club, area, and division (2nd place) levels.
If you'd like to hear my winning speech, "I Am Rich," click the play button below. If you're reading by email, click here to hear "I Am Rich."