Toastmasters International

Toastmasters International. It's got nothing to do with bread, but rather the kind of toast given at a wedding. To give a good toast is to elevate those around you, encourage feelings of goodwill, and share a thought worth remembering. 

Toastmasters is an International leadership and public speaking development club, and above all other resources, is the one I recommend the most.  Going on and on about technique and tips for public speaking is of no use to you if you don't find a supportive, fun, and engaging environment to practice speaking in. The people you meet in Toastmasters (and you'll find the same if you visit other clubs internationally), truly wish to see you grow and will help you in your journey to developing your leadership and communication skills.  

I cannot recommend Toastmasters enough. It has been and continues to be a source of mentorship, comic relief, moral support, wisdom, and inspiration to me for over 3 years now and I always leave the meeting feeling better than I did walking in. 

To find a local club near you, visit the Toastmasters International Find a Club page.

Online Resources

INtroduction to Public Speaking - Coursera

This is a free, self-paced online course on public speaking. From preparation to delivery, no matter your level of speaking skill, this course can teach you some excellent things about an activity many people place among their worst fears.  The difference between written and spoken language is a particularly useful lesson from the course. 

Presenting Better Webinar

As a business student, I'm used to preparing, delivering and watching multiple presentations each semester. This is one webinar that could solve a lot of engagement problems plaguing those presentations and is worth checking out. Even if you feel pretty good about your presentations, your audience will appreciate the extra thought.

Vulnerability in Speaking

Brené Brown will make you laugh, she'll make you cry, and she'll really make you think. If you have never heard of Mrs. Brown, please do yourself a favour and watch this.  This talk, the follow up talk on shame, and subsquently, her book Daring Greatly, have been the single most influential messages I've heard for as long as I can remember. Public speaking is inherently vulnerable, and those who embrace it are able to  meaningfully connect with their audience.  I would not be the speaker, leader, son, lover, student, or young man I am today had I not been so moved by this brilliant woman's story, message and ideas. 

Amy Cuddy's TED Talk dramatically changed the way I think about body language, one of the key elements to effective speaking.  Not only is this great pre-speech advice, but her story hits so close to home that the message will never leave you.  

Regardless of how much speaking I do, those nerves are a familiar feeling that comes back every time I get up in front of an audience. While it can be stressful sometimes, I am grateful for how stress helps reminds me how much each speaking opportunity means to me and to be as present as possible for my audience. This TED Talk could help you see your own stress in a new light as well.

Scientific American article on using your nervous energy to improve your speaking.

My professional communications instructor, Deborah O'Malley, shared Garr Reynolds with our class when we were preparing our class presentations. Garr Reynolds, known for books such as Presentation Zen and Naked Presenter, is a masterful presenter. In this TED Talk, he shares how to design an engaging presentation.