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Thanks, Aristotle!

By Florian Mueck • Oct 8th, 2009 • Category: My Europe

New Orleans, the city of Jazz and Mardi Gras - it has always been famous for its unrivalled French Quarter with its vibrant nightlife! I dove into it once when I stopped over on a roadtrip in 1995. Cats Meow on Bourbon Street - a famous Karaoke joint. I was standing in the crowd, admiring those people who dared to step onto that semiprofessional stage. I wanted to sing, too - so much! But… I couldn’t. I was just terrified of the multitude of critical eyes in the audience. I suffered from what we all suffer from… stage-fright!

14 years later. I speak at weddings, I speak at parties. I write and perform songs, I have created my own entertaining public speaking seminar, and I am the initiator of The Festival, a pan-European movement where I am constantly confronted with giving motivational and inspiring speeches to a wide European variety of people and audiences.

What has happened?

The answer goes back to the year 1924 when Ralph C. Smedley founded the first Toastmasters club in Santa Ana, California. Toastmasters, which today is present with local clubs nearly everywhere around the globe, has changed my life. It has transfomed me into an outgoing, extroverted and passionate public speaking fanatic.

When I first attended a meeting of Prestigious Speakers Barcelona, a local chapter of Toastmasters International, in 2005, I signed up right away. Wow, I thought, these guys are turning into Aristotle - meeting volunarily twice a month to learn how to speak in public. What I personally liked best were the oral evaluations which were given to the speakers by fellow members of the club after those had performed their five to seven minute speeches. In normal life nobody tells you what you do well and what you still could improve. This is the key differentiator of the Toastmasters approach.

At Toastmasters you learn by doing with people you like! You learn how to speak, how to move your body, how to vary your voice, so that the last row won’t fall asleep. You learn how to use supporting visual aids, how to include catchy anecdotes, quotes, humor. You learn how to keep the eye contact with the entire audience, how to structure any speech, how to keep your time, speak less, get to the point. You learn how to engage with enthusiasm. You turn into a passionate speaker - always showing your greatest asset: your smile!

Maxwell Maltz once said, “Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-break on.” Toastmasters does not only help you to release the hand-break - Toastmasters makes you accelerate with infinite speed…

I will definitely return to New Orleans. I will walk straight into Cats Meow. I will get on stage right away. I will take a deep breath, calm down, look everyone around deeply into their eyes. And then - with passion - I will start to sing: “And now the end is near…”

More information

TMI District 59 - Toastmasters Europe
TMI District 71 - UK and Ireland

Club map for Districts 59 and 71:


Image source: Tele Atlas - powered by Google

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Florian Mueck is European, initiator and co-founder of The Festival: "Passion for Europe maybe does not exist in the media. But it does exist in many hearts of many people."
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