Mark Twain once said, “There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.” Public speaking can be an incredibly rewarding process; breaking the fourth wall can truly create a meaningful relationship between yourself and the audience. Though rewarding, it can also be one of the most unrelenting and intimidating undertakings for students.
Wynona Mendes knows a thing or two about public speaking. She is a fourth-year International Development student and is volunteering for a third term as president of the University of Waterloo’s Toastmasters.
UWaterloo’s Toastmasters serves as a useful platform for members to become better communicators and leaders. Club members are able to practice their public speaking through speeches, both prepared and impromptu, and are also provided with an evaluation opportunity in which they can receive useful feedback from their peers.
Wynona was inspired to join because she wanted to improve her presentation and leadership skills. “The sense of community caught my interest. You really get the best of both worlds - you are able to develop your public speaking skills in a professional setting and you can rest assured that no one in the audience is out to get you, which is what public speaking can feel like sometimes,” she said.
Improving your communication skills can help with everyday tasks and it can ultimately help you stand out in a crowd.
They say that in any situation, the first thing you sell is yourself. You can only do that if you exude confidence. Practicing public speaking helps you develop precisely that.
Public speaking is not something that can be learned or improved upon simply overnight. Similar to any task, it takes constant practice and evaluation.
Wynona believes that “the important thing to remember is that you can’t just stop at practicing in front of a mirror. You have to push yourself to become open to constructive criticism, and the only way to do that is to practice in front of people.”
Joining Toastmasters has also helped Wynona with her interpersonal skills, which has led to great opportunities and an even greater outlook on life.
“It made me 100 times more confident than I used to be,” she shared. “I tend to be pretty introverted and so I used to find it difficult to network with people or present in front of a large audience or even appear composed in an interview because I saw all those things as being extremely stressful. UW Toastmasters has better equipped me to handle such situations.”
Whether it be a class presentation, a job interview, or a networking event, learning how to use public speak as a tool for success is important to people from all walks of life.
Preparation and presentation go hand in hand, so if you’d like more practice with your communication skills, join Wynona in the UWaterloo Toastmasters!