One problem I already see with toastmasters is that everyone is there to kinda celebrate public speaking. This makes for a very happy, encouraging audience.... which is awesome, until you go out into the real world. I learned about this in 2008 or so when I got back from a corporate diversity conference and gave a debrief presentation for the networking groups at our company, I felt great about thee presentation, there were lots of good questions and discussion. The next week I gave it to the staff of the electrical engineering department, which at that time was 100% old white guys. Guess what? VEEERY different presentation!
But I'll still get a lot out of toastmasters, and the meetings are a blast, fast paced and funny with a neat group.
For my "tell about myself" speech I talked about the D on the macbeth essay that drove me into engineering, then about the internship at the powerplant company that drove me into aviation. I talked about a cool website I made at work that was almost turned off because it turns out it DOES matter who you are and who you know, even in the most logical fields. I told how I met my husband on a road trip to vegas for a hacker conference and we now have two little girls, a baby and a three year old who says she wants to be just like me when she grows up and make airplanes. Except she will make "big airplanes". Apparently my career has gone nowhere, I didn't know my goal was supposed to be gross weight.
The toastmasters book had a good tip: memorize your first few sentences, and your last few sentences. The rest will fall into place. I was amazed, they were right! I practiced a lot, sitting on the floor playing with baby olive I just told my life story to myself and it passed the time wonderfully. I had lots to say, but also lots that could be thrown out based on how my clock was looking.
I got a few helpful tips from the evaluators, apparently I stood in one spot for the whole speech shifting my weight from one leg to the other in a somewhat distracting way, I could move around the room next time. and they said towards the end I talked pretty fast. I do that.
I was actually the first newbie in our club to do the icebreaker speech, no one wanted to kick us off, but now everyone is signing up for slots in droves so it might be a while before I get to my next speech. But there are little impromptu opportunities at every meeting so I have that to look forward to.