My year of preparation unfolded in three stages of accelerating dread. First, I joined Toastmasters, a worldwide organization whose members meet weekly in local chapters to practice public speaking. Toastmasters was founded in 1924 by a man named Ralph Smedley, who declared that “all talking is selling, and all selling involves talking.” This slogan is a little off-putting to someone like me, but I still found it invaluable to practice speaking in a supportive, low-stakes setting.
In the New York Times, Susan Cain writes about how she, an introvert, set off on a year of living dangerously and gave a speech at TED this year that’s been viewed more than 2,ooo,ooo times. The article is interesting for Susan’s description of what she experienced as she prepared her speech and for the recognition she gives to Toastmasters; her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, provides some interesting perspective on the “Cult of Personality” versus the “Cult of Character” in a chapter that includes Ralph Smedley, Dale Carnegie, and Tony Robbins.