toastmasters and prison

I attended my first Toastmasters meeting in years. The group was energetic and very welcoming. Standing up to introduce myself, I was only the slightest bit nervous, but more excited that I am embarking on public speaking once more. Toastmasters brings so much out in people and pushes its members to research new ideas and concepts for weekly presentations. As you become more comfortable speaking in public, the opportunities change and grow for your goals in each speech.

Today, there were two scheduled speakers. One woman told a story about how she had “Gone to Texas to Go to Prison.” As it turns out, she was a New Yorker who had an unfaithful husband. She had teased that she should kill them both — at least she’d get three meals, a cot, and could lead prison drama club. Instead, she left her unfaithful husband behind and came to Texas, only to find herself involved in Truth Be Told which is a group that encourages incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women to unlock their potential to build better lives and safer communities.

The second speaker spoke about corporate farms and how our food chain is affected by GMOs. He meandered a bit and, though clearly well educated on the subject, I felt like he was saying a lot that so many know. However, his evaluator was so positive and I realized, Toastmasters isn’t about teaching something new or being charismatic, but presenting information simply for the sake of the experience of researching and presenting in a public forum.

Life isn’t always about something new, but often just practicing a skill. In practicing a skill you push yourself and create new energy in your life. How often do we get the chance to create a little intentional discomfort in our lives? How often do we place ourselves in a situation that pushes us to be more? Toastmasters creates an opportunity for people to do just that: expand and grow.

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