Have you heard of Toastmasters?
Toastmasters is a worldwide organisation formed in 1924 with the aim of helping it's members build their communication, public speaking and leadership skills.
I have attended a few Toastmasters clubs and the procedure of the meetings are basically the same. Each club has their own idiosyncrasies but the concept is consistent.
Each meeting has people who have roles in the meeting.
There is the Toastmaster of the Day who basically runs the meeting. The chairperson so to speak.
Other roles in the meetings are a grammarian who talks about the language used in the meeting.
There is an um and ah counter. When you are speaking they try to persuade you not to say these ums and ahs. I know that at one of the clubs I went to we were fined for each um and ah.
There is also a timer for each meeting who times the speeches.
Basically each meeting is divided into three sections, the prepared speeches, table topics and evaluations.
Prepared speeches are exactly what it sounds like. Three or four club members each meeting prepare a speech to present in front of the meeting. These speeches can be anywhere between four to ten minutes in length.
My favourite part of a Toastmasters meeting is the Table Topics section which is basically an impromptu speech. Depending on time there can be quite a few two minute speeches with the Table Topics Master giving you a topic.
Depending on the topic it can be quite fun or it can be quite tortuous and believe me I have had them both where the speech just flowed or it was the longest two minutes of my life.
The final part are the evaluations where everyone is evaluated, the speeches as well as the people who had roles in the meeting. I think this is the most difficult part of the meeting and I know that I always wanted to do a role that wasn't an evaluator when I first joined the club. However, as I got more and more experienced I found that being an evaluator was quite fun as well because you had to really listen to what was been said.
If you really want to develop your confidence and your public speaking ability, I strongly suggest you check out a Toastmasters club near you. At the very least you are going to have some fun and you are going to meet some interesting people.
Here is the link. Look for that club and go along to a couple of meetings. It might be for you and it might not, you won't know until you go along.