Meet A Toastmaster: Mike Weston

Table Topics Contest Winner (3rd Place in District 91)

What is your secret?

I put it down to being in the moment, turning off the inner critic, trusting in myself and just letting it happen. One of the reasons I love Table Topics is the opportunity to access that moment of mindful calm and freedom from judgement. I rather wish I could bring more of that into my daily life. I would never have been able to achieve this without Toastmasters’ supportive environment, which allows me to learn that failure is a core part of growth – perhaps the most important one. And all that really matters is the next opportunity to do so.

Why would you recommend someone to participate in the Toastmasters speech contest?

It is so very easy to stay within our comfort zone! And while this can be helpful, or even vital, in helping us tackle the undeniable emotional challenges of public speaking, it can, over time, subtly shrink our horizons. We can thus quickly be defined not by what we can do but by what we think we can do. I often draw upon the quote:

If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

If we don’t challenge ourselves and push against our perceived limitations, then we will never know how truly exceptional we all can be. I’d therefore recommend to anyone to participate as, regardless of the result, you’ll learn something about yourself as a person, and the discovery might even surprise you!

What is your next challenge?

One of the great joys (and/or horrors) of public speaking is being the centre of attention and having your opinion as the sole point of discussion, albeit for only 5-7 minutes. Equally important as this display of ego is being able to put the ego aside and listen and serve. That’s something where many of us could do with more practice. I for one have an unfortunate tendency to drive to a solution, rather than see where the discussion might lead, and rigidly defend it, blind to others’ experience. I’ve therefore stepped up to be an Area Director to challenge myself to be more open to external ideas, more accepting of ‘imperfect’ solutions and able to trust in the vision of others. My experience thus far has supported my previous assertion, been equally challenging as the contests (although in a different way) and one that I’d similarly recommend that more people engage with.