Learning public speaking

If you want to gain or improve your public speaking skills, there are many educational opportunities. I want to mention only two: Toastmasters and Speaking Circles.

There’s not a Speaking Circles group in Nova Scotia, so I have no experience with it, but I still want to talk about it because I like what I’ve come across. I read founder Lee Glickstein’s book Be Heard Now, and from reading it I think I’d be more inclined toward Speaking Circles than Toastmasters. Speaking Circles has more of spiritual sensibility to it. Toastmasters was founded in the 1920s in order to help advance men — and I do mean men — in business. However, there are some Toastmasters groups that have a spiritual bent and women make up at least half the membership, if not more, of all clubs.

In a sense it doesn’t matter which organization you join. I’ve belonged to a local Toastmasters club for about four years, and have attended meetings at other local Toastmasters clubs. Each club has its own vibe, its own personality. One club may cater to young aggressive professionals. Another may be established within a seniors center and be more genteel and non-controversial. Still another may emphasis success in speaking competitions, so that speakers who are not naturally gifted may feel ignored or left behind. Still others are middle of the road, appealing to most of the population.

There are many ways in which Toastmasters clubs could vary and the diversity is welcome. What it means is that if you are interested in joining a Toastmasters club, you will probably have to visit three or four before deciding which one you will join. You are more than welcome to attend meetings several times for free as a guest.

The cost of joining Toastmasters is very nominal, about $50 every six months.

I don’t know the cost of joining Speaking Circles. They have different levels of study which can be expensive compared to Toastmasters. Some Speaking Circles invite love offerings. What’s a love offering these days? Ten bucks? Fifteen? I don’t know. With Toastmasters there’s no love offering.

I imagine, but I don’t know for sure, that each Speaking Circles groups is different, too. They don’t all have love offerings. However, there are far less SC groups.

While I think I’d be more inclined to join Speaking Circles than Toastmasters, it depends on the personality of the group. In either organization you will learn public speaking. That’s the main thing.

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