Do you really want to do this?
It was almost ten years ago, but I remember it very clearly. It was a chilly December evening in Houston, Texas. I had driven to this location, not far from my house. I’d heard they have these meetings where you can learn more about “how to overcome your fear of public speaking”, and “enhance your listening and leadership skills”. I sat in the car for many minutes, trying to gather my courage, wondering how foolish would I be to walk into a room full of people I didn’t know who might want me to get up and speak. The fear of public speaking usually ranks 1st or 2nd on most people’s list. To put that in perspective, death is usually 6th. Petrified would be a good word for how I felt. But, I got out of the car and went in.
I joined a Toastmasters club named “Speakers Connection”. Toastmasters International currently has over 330,000 members in over 15,400 clubs in 135 countries worldwide. District 56 covers the entire greater Houston metro area. Since that day long ago I’ve given hundreds of prepared speeches, taught many workshops, and given presentations on a lot of different topics. I’ve served as the President of our club three times, and also served as the Area Director over six different clubs as well. I’ve participated in the semi-annual speaking contests, and won a few along the way. I’ve even made in to the District Finals two years in a row, something no one in our club had ever achieved before.
I’ve completed all seven levels of the speaking and leadership program, achieving the “Distinguished Toastmaster” (DTM) award, which is the highest award granted by Toastmasters International.
Through it all the best part has been helping others achieve many of the same goals I have. Mentoring, coaching, and guiding those around me. Watching their confidence grow as they progress through the early stages, enjoying their awards and contest wins as well. Encouraging them to successfully run the meetings, to be the leader, to step up to the plate. Then watching them warm to the task of giving back themselves by helping new members as they join the club. It is a good feeling.
People have asked me many times “What is the most difficult thing about learning how to do public speaking well?”
For me, the toughest thing was getting out of the car on that chilly December evening.
Karl M. Pohle, DTM
President, Speakers Connection Toastmasters
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