Toastmasters, for (pretty much) the first time

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.”

No phone at home [EXPERIMENT] – Day 2

Most things that make me more intentional are better.

That’s kind of a general statement. Let me give an example.

No phone at home makes me more intentional. When I get online, I have to physically open my laptop. The larger screen encourages me to write here or read longer form content online. Normally, on my phone, I’d gravitate toward something like my Facebook newsfeed, which has is never a good idea.

No phone at home, for now at least, makes me more intentional. As a result, for now at least, it’s better for me.

This isn’t always the case for everything. It’s not possible to pay attention to everything. We have to prioritize our focus.

In general, though, slowing down, focusing more intensely on less – that’s usually better than going with the mindless option.

Usually, the mindless option is just easier. By extension then, perhaps the corollary is this: most things that are easier are worse.

No phone at home [EXPERIMENT] – Day 1

Day 1 pretty much down.

It hasn’t been hard.

The hardest part so far has been the little things:

  • Automatically opening it to check the time (I wear a watch too)
  • Wondering if I can turn off my alarm clock in the morning when it goes off (I voted yes, so I should probably add this to the list)
  • Checking the blinking light (meaning I might have received a text or call) and then realizing it’s just an email

The upside is I actually did spend more of a conversational evening with my wife tonight.

Not much of an update for now other than that. We’ll see how it goes.

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