Public Speaking – Necessary But Deadly?


2 glasses with red wine, and various cheeses and cured meats laying around

On Saturday, March 8, Lila Tocci, a member of the Woburn-based MDC Toastmaster’s Club, hosted a Wine + Cheese Party for the group at Tocci Headquarters.

Tocci staff Kevin Leonard and Lesley Cappuccio created a party venue by transforming Tocci’s conference room with soft seating, mood lighting, an Oriental rug, wall hangings, and plants. In the evening, wine and cheese created a truly congenial atmosphere.  The party offered guests interested in improving their presentation skills an opportunity to meet members of the local club and practice impromptu speaking.

Although presentation skills are essential for career development, Bud LaRosa (also a Toastmaster) reported, “research shows people fear public speaking more than death.” Necessary but deadly!

Cognitive psychologist Philip G. Zimbardo identified several symptoms of anxiety: “The jitters, sweaty palms, knocking knees, facial flushes, watery eyes, leathery tongue, dry mouth, wild heartbeats, shortness of breath, memory lapses, mental confusion.”

If you’ve ever felt incapacitated or even weakened by anxiety in front of an audience, you’re probably looking for help. Toastmasters Intl. realizes that public speaking, like any skill, improves only with practice.  In weekly meetings, members fill a variety of speaking roles to develop competence and leadership. Check out a Toastmasters Club near you to see if what they offer might enhance your professional development. They might not offer a festive Wine+ Cheese gathering, but they’re sure to welcome you as a guest.