Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I recently joined Toastmasters, an inernational organization designed to help people improve their public-speaking skills. I mention the public speaking part right away because when I told a woman the other day that I had joined Toastmasters, she immediately started talking about an old episode of the TV show 'Frasier' and how Frasier and his brother Niles had joined a wine-tasting club and were vying to become 'toastmaster' of their club and the usual wacky highjinx ensued. So let me say up front that this is not a wine tasting club (I save my wine drinking for when I'm reading IGMS story submssions ;-) )

Okay, get back to the point, Edmund...

There was a point?

Yes, now get on with it.


Okay, so I joined Toastmasters. My role as editor of these two magazines has me in front of more and more people, and it seems to be happeneing more and more often. And while I'm not shy (no one will ever accuse me of that), I do find that it's one thing to be on a panel with other speakers or to speak with small groups, but it's quite another thing to be up in front of larger groups, delivering a prepared speech. That, frankly, is scary stuff. Scary stuff that I am now doing. And Toastmaster is, as I already mentioned, designed to help people be better at it. I gave my first prepared speech a few weeks ago (a four to six minute introduction to me, and I'll confess my hands were pretty clammy by time I was done). It wasn't much fun.

I'm looking forward to today though.

Today I am going to be Table Topics Master, which means I come up with a series of items of questions for people to talk about, and they have no idea what those topics are until I tell them. It's an exercise in thinking - and talking - on your feet, and my theme is 'moral dilemmas.' One of my 'dilemmas' (formed, I'm sure, in all that Polar reading I've been doing) is to designate someone the leader of a expedition to the North Pole that has gone terribly wrong. Half the party is dead from hypothermia and starvation is imminent. The only option for survival? Cannibalism. As leader of what's left of the expedition, what do you do? What do you tell your people?

God, I'm looking forward to this.

I wonder if they'll ever let me be able Topics Master again?

(BTW, what would you do?)


Michael D. said...

First of all, welcome to Toastmasters. I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of it. I’ve been a Toastmaster since 2003 and have gotten more out of it then I thought I would in the form of more self confidence.

Second, if I where the leader of that expedition, I’d have to get the others to do what needed to be done in order to survive. But, as the leader, I would have to be the first one to “Take a bit”.

Julie Wright said...

You're a sick sick man ed. If it were me . . . I'd have stayed home. I don't do cold weather, not for anyone, for any reason. But pretending I had lost my mind entirely (which would be necessary for me to even consider such an absurd expedition) I'd tell me people they need to make their own moral decision as to food and I would neither condemn nor condone any action they took. As for me . . . I'd opt to starve. But if they needed help to survive, as their leader I'd help (ahem) dissect their food. The body is a shell and I can understand surv ival needs, but I still heave when I think of eating that chicken heart. This is something I couldn't do. (what moron chose me to be the expedition leader anyway??)

Dena said...

Will we allow you to to TableTopics again? I think you know the answer to that one... God forbid we keep it interesting.

Edmund R. Schubert said...

Yeah, that's the impression I got, too...

...but then, Julie did say that I was a sick man and she should know. ;-)

Public speaking courses said...

Good ON you for joining Toastmasters. I joined 13 years ago for somehting to do............... and have had a ball ever since. You will get so much out of it. It is a great way to improve your public speaking skills.

I am a member in Adelaide Australia.