Um? So What!

SO I am sitting at a stop light (in my car) waiting for the light to give me the go… along side me comes rumbling up.. a 1965 Plymouth Fury. Aaaaah. I have been looking for one of these- it was my first car and I am still in love.
Am I creating my universe or do we just get back what we focus on? Does that sentence even make sense? My point, amidst my caffeine headache, did I see 4 of these cars the past 3 weeks because I was looking for them…. were they always there and I didn’t notice… or did I manifest some parallel universe where these grand machines live in abundance.
I remember a few years ago when I traveled to Santiago Cuba my amazement of the time-stood-still vehicle time machine. So many of the vehicles are from the 50’s when Cuba could purchase America cars before the ’63 embargo. Thirty years later and the 50’s American dream cars were alive and well.
Yet, the past few weeks I was not in Cuba. I sense that I see all these ’65 machines because I am alert and looking for them. They have been going along fine in their life, all around me. And now, I see them.
What we focus on is what we see. It bothered me today. I had someone call me to interview me as a potential speech coach. I asked them their number one desire in the training. They felt they could use some basic speech training, “You know, get rid of the ‘um’s.” It seemed they had taken a Toastmasters class and each time they said um a coin was dropped in a jar. They wanted someone to help them get rid of the ums in the same way.
Um, can I be honest with you right now? I absolutely HATE Toastmasters and all they stand for. The last thing a person needs when they are embracing the joy of public speaking is some silly person dropping a coin in a jar.. letting the person know what they are doing wrong.
And who said that saying UM is bad anyway? Why as a people do we hate this word so much? People have been conditioned now to listen for it and grade the speaker based on this ridiculous litmus test. We focus on the um’s.. we get the um’s.
You can say 13 UPS (Ums per speech) and I will not care if you related to me as a person… engaged me… got me involved.
Take my advice, be careful who you accept crticism from in public speaking. Your way just may be the right way. The goal of a speech is not to be perfect.. well, it is to be perfect as YOU. Be You. Folks come to hear YOU not your words.
Do also avoid loving a car that is 40 years old, bad for the environment and gets 10 miles to the gallon….it is heartbreaking to, um, want something so ‘bad.’

14 Replies to “Um? So What!”

  1. I joined Toastmaster’s and withdrew my membership after the first meeting. This is why:

    1. A girl sat next to me who smelled bad.

    2. The speakers were the absolute worst I have ever heard. Why would I want to listen to pitifully ignorant people make horrible speeches?

    3. The member-tomember suggestions were almost a joke. Their suggestions were stupid and harmful.

    4. Although I only attended one meeting, Toastmaster’s refused to refund my money.

    Like you, I strongly dislike Toastmasters!!!

  2. Toastmasters is the blind leading the blind – A bunch of bad speakers teaching even worse speakers all of their bad habits.

    My grandfather is an avid toastmaster. I watched the 2005 (?) world finals with him on VHS tape. In it, a woman climbed up on a chair and leaped off in the middle of her speech. Another man was running around the stage and thrusting his hands into the air so vigorously that I thought he might take off like a helicopter.

    No professional speaker would ever do these things, and yet this is regularly encouraged in Toastmasters; the fact that that type of buffoonery is present at the world level is proof of that.

    If one needs to overcome the fear of speaking in public, then Toastmasters is a good and safe place to start. However, if one wishes to learn how to speak well, one would be best advised to take a course or lessons from a reputable teacher.

  3. I’ve been in Toastmasters for 5 years and I hate the whole counting uhms thing too (http://my.spaith.com/blog/2008/05/09/against-bean-counters) and made it go away in one club that was adopting it.

    %90 of Toastmasters is getting in a good club and taking it seriously after that. I’d hope that one bad experience wouldn’t permanently turn someone off to it. You’re not going to be a pro speaker based on TM alone, but you can go from being mediocre to a very good amateur.

    John

  4. I too hate Toastmasters, I have been to sevral meetings and it is like watching paint dry. I have watched this club turn normal people into some real arrogant head up thier behinds people, It is pretty much a place for people who need validation in thier lives and have nolives or friends of thier own have place to meet. It teaches you how to make yourself look like a babbling bafoon. It is a great place for people who think they are important and are not make themselves feel important. A defininite 12 step program for people with low self esteem.

  5. With thousands of Toastmastes Clubs worldwide, I would hope you don’t generalize too much and turn those away who may be interested in finding a friendly place to rid themselves of public speaking anxieties. Generalizations are a shame…if you are in Fresno, California, please come by for a visit to Central Valley Toastmasters!

  6. There are over 12000 toastmaster clubs worldwide. Not all of them have the same rules or people. Also the meetings change over time.

    Pretty silly judgement to pass on such a huge organisation.

    But then again its in competition with your services that provide no audience to talk to regularly…

  7. I’ve attended only about 15 in the past decade or so. So far, unimpressed.

    I find that the people in the audience try to fit everyone into nice little boxes of what good communication is supposed to look like. I have watched people have the AMAZING vanilla’d out of them by a group of people who count the ums instead of seeing that the person in front of them is spectacular in so many other ways.

    So perhaps the other 11,985 clubs have something to offer 😉 It is not silly to pass judgment on an organization – it is what humans do. We have cognitive illusions that drive out behavior on a daily basis. Saying so gives people context into who we are and what we believe. It isn’t like I have purchased a billboard on Highway 101 begging people not to attend Toastmasters or something.

    The thing about the world today is humans need to notice what offends them and act accordingly. I’ve had a lot of hate emails from Toastmaster-ites who are so offended by my personal opinion. Find it very interesting.

    Just because something doesn’t match our style doesn’t mean it isn’t valid for other people. What i mean is – my opinion on Toastmasters is valid as far as my style goes. It isn’t for me. it is appropriate on a personal blog for a person to state what they believe. It is also assumed that the people reading this blog are adults and able to form their own opinions based on their own experience. Have faith in people – you have a strong brand.

    Humans often reduce listening in our evangelism. Thanks for being kind and open in communicating yours.

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