Great minds think alike (No … we’re not fools)! – Or rather, I’m a greater fool than Miriam Drori, as it’s taken me more months to get around to joining an amazing Institution. It’s great fun, and you learn sooo much. Let Miriam tell you about it.
2nd February 2014. I was in a state of euphoria when the news came. Crooked Cat was going to publish my novel. Everything I’d been working towards for ten years. A dream come true.
Other Half was more practical. “You need to learn how to give speeches and interviews,” he said, somewhat dampening my euphoric state. You need to appear on programmes like “Open Book” and “Woman’s Hour” he said. My mood took another downturn. Before depression set in, I took myself in hand. Speeches – OK. I’ve given presentations before. I should be able to write and present speeches. Interviews – a different kettle of fish altogether.
You see, I have this problem. It’s called social anxiety, which I like to define as: a fear of people and especially of what those people think of me. I’ve written more about it elsewhere, but just want to mention here that if you think most people are like that then you’re right, but most people don’t have social anxiety because that depends on how much it affects your life. And if you think someone with social anxiety can’t enjoy giving speeches, then I’d say you’re confusing social anxiety with shyness. That’s easily done because most people with social anxiety are also shy.
So… interviews. How could I learn to do them? I posted on a local forum and received lots of replies. All the respondents wanted to tutor me privately on the art of interview- and speech-giving. None of them mentioned fees, but I expect they would have been considerable. One response said something else: “I wonder if there’s a Toastmasters club in Israel.”
I had a search and discovered one Toastmasters International Club in the whole country, which happens to be in Modi’in – half an hour’s drive away. I could manage that. I went along to a meeting and liked what I saw. The meeting consisted mostly of planned speeches and shorter impromptu talks. Some of the members were very adept at speech-giving; others less so. I didn’t feel too intimidated.
About four months on, I’m a member, I attend regularly and I’ve given one prepared speech, which didn’t go quite as well as I’d expected. The date of the speech was brought forward and I didn’t have enough time to prepare. But I got through it all right. The impromptu talks, called table topics, are much harder, I find. I haven’t got the hang of those yet, but hope I will. At each meeting, there are various tasks. I have told a joke, quizzed members to check they’ve been listening and will soon be the grammarian. The last role involves introducing the word of the day (which members try to bring into their talks) and reporting on ums and ahs (which are considered not good).
All the long-time members have said how much Toastmasters has helped them and I’m hoping it’ll help me, too. “Open Book” here I come!
Miriam Drori was born and brought up in London, and now lives in Jerusalem where her daughter has left her to hold the female fort against three males.
Following careers as a computer programmer and a technical writer, Miriam has been writing creatively for the past ten years and has had short stories published online and in anthologies. Neither Here Nor There, published on 17 June 2014, is her first published novel.
Miriam began writing in order to raise awareness of social anxiety. Since then the scope of her writing has widened, but she hasn’t lost sight of her original goal.
Miriam’s website: http://miriamdrori.com/
Neither Here Nor There is available from: