After a few years of (more than) contemplating joining Toastmasters, I attended a meeting for the first time yesterday.
Not many people know this, but I’ve tried to attend twice before.
The first time, I showed up early and waited in the parking lot for the meeting to begin. By the time it started, though, I chickened out. I never even made it out of my car.
People who know me – and everyone who’s heard this story up to this point – says this doesn’t sound like me.
It gets worse.
I did this twice.
I contacted the meeting coordinator again and told her I couldn’t make it out last time but will try again for the next meeting.
The next meeting came around, and I drove to the building, arrived early, waited, and once again never made it out of the car.
Anyway, this time, I didn’t have any problem getting out of the car. The meeting took place in the church where I usually vote. I’d been there before.
When I arrived, two or three members greeted me, and they gave me a seat next to the president of the club.
I’ve never been part of a club in the past. More than that, I’ve never really been part of anything formal. School, church, work – all have been casual.
The Toastmasters meeting, though, started on time, with the leader drawing the meeting to order with a gavel. I didn’t know that was a real thing.
The word for the day was “grovel.” The designated grammarian explained the definition and told us to use the word as much as possible throughout the night.
The rest of the meeting went through three speakers and then something called table topics, in which one person asked members questions to answer in an impromptu style. After that, the designated evaluators shared what they thought of each of the speakers. Finally, the grammarian, the timer, and a few others shared what they noticed throughout the meeting.
Evidently the format is fairly consistent across clubs and meetings.
So yeah, nothing to be nervous about, right?
There’s another meeting next week, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m not completely on board yet, but I’ve been interested for years. I’m glad I finally made it out. And, like literally every evaluator said at the meeting, “I’m looking forward to hearing their next speeches.”