by Dru Murray, VC1 Progressive Leaders

Being a Toastmaster helps us navigate life through lessons on how to handle unexpected events.

Every day, every month, every year, each of us find ourselves having to deal with things out of our control. Unwanted events range from common occurrences like a sudden electrical/internet failure to larger concerns such as the symptoms of a disease or the tragedy of a death in the family.

On the other hand, wanted events could include a marriage ceremony for a beloved child, the completion of a personal project, or the receipt of an award for a professional accomplishment. Oddly, some people find it difficult to handle success.

Regardless of whether the unexpected events are wanted or not, the main effect often is that of surprise. We may feel helpless with little to no control over the situation which in turn can cause us to respond poorly.

We can’t control all events in our lives, but we can try to avoid the unwanted ones. Toastmasters teaches us skills to take control of our lives. We learn planning skills by writing speeches, more specifically, we learn how to organize ideas by creating outlines.

In our Toastmasters clubs, we participate in Table Topics which requires us to think on our feet. We’re given a maximum of two minutes to deliver an extemporaneous —spoken or done without preparation—speech on a range of topics.

Delivering an acceptable extemporaneous speech isn’t easy. Simultaneously, it’s both an unwanted and yet wanted event. Why? Challenging ourselves to answer impromptu questions teaches us how to maintain our composure during unwanted events and push through them. Delivering decent extemporaneous speeches teaches us how to accept successes, and so they are also wanted events.

Another result is learning to avoid filler words such as ah, um, like, and so which bolsters our confidence. Thank you, Toastmasters, for helping us navigate life’s unexpected events.

“Photo courtesy of Werner Pfennig, pexels.com

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