By Catherine Welborn
Like most skills, the best way to improve as a public speaker is to practice as much as possible. If you can spend that practice time in front of a constructively critical audience, all the better. But where do you find that audience? Friends and family members are great—if they’re available. However, if you’re like me, you don’t want to ask the same people for favors over and over again.
Here’s an option: Meetup.com. The free site allows members to organize a local group or to join one of the thousands that already exist. The groups cover just about every interest and activity imaginable, and—you guessed it—there are quite a few public speaking groups available. I searched a number of cities, both in America and abroad, and every single one had at least one public speaking group. Not bad!
Many of the groups are branches of Toastmasters International, but I also found some other interesting independent groups as well. The great part about Meetup is that if your hometown doesn’t already have a public speaking group—or if there just isn’t one that fits your needs—you can start your own in a matter of minutes. The Meetup community is very active and always growing, so even if you don’t have a friend or colleague who’d want to join your public speaking group, chances are high that others nearby will. Without too much effort, you’ll have a willing audience and plenty of opportunities to hear and critique other speakers.
Have you ever used Meetup.com? What was your experience like?