Trade in your Toastmasters for Improv

Trade in your Toastmasters for Improv

it is no secret: i am not a fan of toastmasters. As I wrote on another person’s blog yesterday
” At the risk of offending half the speaking world: Toastmaster is a great thing to do only if you want to cement into your cellular memory every little thing you do that other people do not like.
Last time I checked- we are individuals and we have our own style. The last thing a public speaker needs is to be pelted with negativity.
Think of it this way: I assume most folks reading this blog have, at one time or another, attempted to learn how to ride a bicycle. It is a hot sunny day and there is a grape Kool-Aid ring around your mouth. You cool of the purple glitter banana seat bicycle (showing my age) and straddle the Huffy Rocket. A voice behind you says, “Well, your feet are a little small for this, you aren’t hold the handlebars right, those shorts are an embarassment, the humidity is a little high to be riding today and I just am not happy with your performance. But hey- give it a go.”
Critical Mass (
would have a few less participants if this is the way we taught bicycling.
Want to be better at public speaking?
1) Careful who you let critique you. They may be petty and absolutely wrong.
2) Go to Bay Area Theatre Sports. It is an Improv class and quite spectacular. it will get you used to thinking on your feet faster than anything will. it is also a lot of fun.
3) Pay attention to what works. notice what you like about other speakers. Practicing this consistently will improve your own ability. We have a tendancy to mimic what we like with out thinking about it.
4) Speaking of mimic.. do not act. Acting is the kiss of death for 98% of humans as we are just not good enough at acting to pull it off. Being ourselves is the best option.
5) Start the speech in such a way that makes you feel comfortable. You. The beginning of a speech is for YOU not the audience. Do not start by thanking everyone.. start with a story. Something that happened to you. Allegory. The communication currency of our time.
6) Practice. Out loud.
Ok. that is just a few tips. i suppose i should do a monthly column or something.

1 Comment
  • Dan
    Posted at 10:44h, 04 August

    Toastmasters is a subjective experience. You gotta play around with it to find the right group for you. I actually started off in improv but realized the lack of structure and expensive classes was not worth the investment. I couldn’t even use improv on my resume. However with Toastmasters I can. I found when I returned to Toastmasters having my improv background, I can greatly improve my skills.

    I don’t think its a choice, Improv OR Toastmasters. Rather, to choose both either dividing time between the two or doing them at the same time. The compounding affect of doing both would be huge for anyone who wants to improve their social skills and public speaking skills.

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