It may seem like a cliche, however I have received many unexpected gifts by being involved with Toastmasters. It took me 20 years of procrastination to nervously attend my first meeting in 2016 and I have not regretted it.
Initially my goal was to overcome nerves associated with public speaking, but Toastmasters is so much more than just a public speaking group. There are several things that keep me coming back for more. The camaraderie, leadership and learning opportunities and self development are great, not to mention the sheer fun to be had in our meetings.
There’s a saying that “The more you put in the more you get out” . This old adage is very true to Toastmasters. Every meeting has opportunities to develop personally. I highly recommend stepping up to do any of the roles involved in each meeting. Each has their own skill set and chance to speak in front of the group. We usually ease people in with Grammarian, Timekeeper and Table Topics Master roles and then move them into Evaluations and eventually taking on the role to Toastmaster of the Day and General Evaluator role.
There’s terrific personal value in accepting each role as it comes up and there’s plenty of online descriptions about each role with examples of scripts and suggestions of how to perform the role. As you gain experience you can become a bit more creative as you find your style.
Toastmasters has regular competitions for speakers so they can test their mettle against their peers. These competitions have the potential to take you to the international level if you choose. It hasn’t been my focus personally, but I’ve witnessed the growth and development of some of my fellow club members as they’ve taken on this challenge. Many internationally famous people such as the much loved Dr. Wayne Dyer started with Toastmasters and influenced millions — the sky’s the limit.
From early days I’ve participated in club officer and leadership roles and held several positions. It was a steep learning curve for some positions, sometimes frustrating, but in the end very rewarding at a personal level. I’m currently in the Vice President of Public Relations position. I took this on to learn more about the art of promotion and marketing. As a business owner these skills are invaluable. Thankfully within our group we have others with skills that I can draw from as I expand my own skills.
Participating in special events such as the recent Speechcraft workshop, in both organisational and presenting roles, helps build on the skills learnt in our weekly meetings. There’s nothing like teaching others to focus your sight and really integrate those skills learnt.
Yes Toastmasters is the gift that keeps on giving. There is the spirit of lifting each other up in a positive atmosphere tempered with genuine evaluations and suggestions on how to improve in our speech presentation and each weekly meeting role. As we give, so we receive.
Andrea Collins is the Reef City Cairns Toastmasters Vice-President of Public Relations. She has been an active member of Toastmasters since 2016. During her time at Toastmasters she has achieved her Competent Leadership certification Competent Communicator and completed the 2nd level of Pathways Innovative Planning.