I am a toastmaster
I’ve been one for years.
this doesn’t mean I am good as making toast nor that I am an expert in the technology of toasters
nor does it mean I am a gavel bashing master of ceremonies at banquets
No – what it means is that I have benefitted from a unique opportunity to learn and hone the craft of public speaking courtesy of an international charity ….. Toastmasters International. This longstanding organisation was formed in 1924 and has over 12.500 clubs worldwide
It encourages a diverse range of individuals as well those within businesses, colleges and prisons to develop their ability to get up and speak in public
But why bother to get your speaking skills better?
There are a whole host of reasons- as varied as the people who become members
* It fun to set oneself a challenge of getting better at something
* Overcoming a fear ( for some – a morbid terror of standing up to speak in front of others)
*Interview skills are improved for the job market
*Chairing meetings at work gets easier
*Speaking up in meetings to get ones point across becomes more effective
*Introducing other speakers at events gets easy
*Pulling together clear arguments gets honed
* Using more structure in your thinking and speaking in general
It just happens ….by an almost imperceptable osmosis, mentoring, having fun and some structured training
Whether you are already a keen speaker or a reluctant one,
whether you have to stand up and say something for a living or have an important event coming up – Toastmasters offers a boost to confidence , great tips and endless encouragement through the twice monthly toastmasters meetings.
The word used most often by new guests to describe their first experience of coming along is :friendly
And this is probably the key which underlies the success of toastmasters. We are all there because we are interested in the same thing……. growing our skills in speaking.
No one is judged on the level of their ability – even if you feel you are a hopeless case – toastmasters will gently and kindly support you without pressure.
If you think you are already a hot shot at speaking – you’ll soon find many ways you can improve.
But the speaking is only one strand of Toastmaster membership
There are great opportunities to learn leadership and team skills – both by taking on committee roles but also by following the competent leader manual.
I joined to improve some OK speaking skills over 20 years ago and I am still learning with some enormous pennies dropping during that time… not least the time I entered a regional contest and got disqualified at the semi final due to going 5 seconds over alloted time – ouch! But a very useful lesson learned … . although apparently not as at a recent club meeting I badly misjudged the timing in my enthusiasm and only got one third of the way through, However the point is – it is ok to mess up – no one at toastmasters is at all judgemental when someone struggles to get it right.
Over the years I have seen gibbering wrecks turn into funny accomplished and good entertaining speakers and at times become astonishing ones so I know that the empowering and kind support – works.
How do you achieve this wondrous transformation?
If you are 18 upwards ( no upper limit) you merely have to turn up. In the first instance….. 3 visits as a guest are acceptable – then membership dues are required
(10 pounds a month currently for two meetings and the monthly magazine plus occasional other area and regional events some of which are free some paid)
Where else can you get an evening of training and entertainment – sometimes hysterically funny and sometimes very moving – interesting talks on topics as diverse as cutting hair, Thunderbirds and travel disasters … for a fiver.
Forthcoming meetings at Winchester tennis club bereweeke road
It is totally ok to just be an observer too. You will be welcome – even if you don’t utter a single word .
Sonia Hutton- Taylor