If you asked me eighteen months ago what was my general approach to life I would have replied “I am a doer not a talker”. I avoided speaking in meetings and never knew how to start a conversation. Then came the news that EMC was starting a Toastmasters club, so I decided to attend, not know what to expect.
The introduction meeting was a revelation! Presenters stood up and spoke passionately about Toastmasters and how beneficial they had found the whole experience. It all sounded too good to be true. The perfect sales pitch that made you wonder what was the hidden catch! Needless to say I was sceptical but decided to take the plunge with an “it’s now or never” thought and signed up.
My first speech, termed an Icebreaker, came on 15 June 2012. The objective of the speech was to stand before the audience and speak about myself for 4-6 minutes. With my heart pounding so loud I felt certain everyone could hear it, I wavered between staying put and running. I stayed and, despite my racing pulse, delivered my first speech. Most of it passed in a blur but what I do still remember is the round of applause at the end and how exhilarating that felt.
The months passed and I progressed through the manual until finally I reached my tenth speech on 28 January 2013. I also took on the role of Vice President of Education and worked towards completing my Competent Leader manual. By taking on different roles in each meeting, from grammarian to timekeeper to evaluator and finally Toastmaster I completed this manual on 10 April 2013.
The evidence of how much Toastmasters has changed me came in March 2013 when I stood up before 90 strangers and delivered a 4 minute speech without notes. Who would have believed it? This was definitely something I would not have achieved without the help of Toastmasters.
So what has Toastmasters done for me? Well, I have learnt: –
- How to speak to any audience
- How to listen
- How to give positive and constructive feedback
- How to manage time and meetings
- How to be confident in myself and what I can achieve
I hope this story has in some way inspired you but you don’t have to take my word for it. Go along to a Toastmasters meeting and see for yourself.