I joined Toastmasters in November 2011. I was living in Kinsale and I joined the local club there. It’s a small club and it was a wonderful introduction for me. I had been familiar with Toastmasters for years. My Dad has been involved for a decade or so and I had been to meetings in Mallow to see him. I had had a sense for a long time that I would eventually join up. I was incredibly impressed when I saw my Dad give the father of the bride speech at my sister’s wedding. It was perfect. I wanted that level of confidence.
I stayed with the Kinsale club from November 2011 until April 2012. At that point my partner and I went away travelling for the next six months. Before I left, however, I took part in an evaluation contest. I stood and spoke before a hundred or so people. I never would have thought that possible. Despite the real anxiety of that day, I’ve been blessed by the memory. I did that.
I am now living in Galway and I joined the club here in November. I’m loving it. I love that I’m learning how to shine in ways I never thought I could.
Toastmasters works on a membership and ongoing learning basis. When you join you get two manuals to work through. One is on communication and giving speeches. The other is on leadership. I gave my stage 7 speech this week.
Aside from gaining confidence in myself and continually learning how to construct and give a speech, I have learned a lot more in Toastmasters.
I’ve learned that I have something to say. This was a big one for me. It was actually through being in Toastmasters that I started this blog. I found a new creativity in ideas and the sharing of them.
I have learned to appreciate the value of feedback. Every part of a Toastmasters meeting is evaluated and feedback given to the person performing the role or giving the speech. Rather than being intimidating, I find it very validating to hear someone show me that they’ve heard me.
Finally, a thought that’s been with me for a few weeks. I had a perception of Toastmasters, before I joined, that it would be a place of talking and showing off. I was very wrong. Apart from during the coffee break, there’s only ever one person speaking. Everyone else is present and listening. I love that silence.
I’m really looking forward to the places my Toastmasters journey will take me over the coming months and years. I’m excited about a meeting before I go and buzzed about it afterwards.
Over the coming week, I’m going to post on topics I have explored recently in my speeches.
If you’d like to explore more, click through these links.