February 2012 – I walked into Carrow’s Restaurant and checked out Switch-On Toastmasters. Little did I know that I would begin an interesting journey with public speaking. My original intention was to check out few other Toastmasters clubs in the area. I did not do that – I set my heart with Switch-On because of the warm, inviting, and professional settings I saw. The following week, I signed up to become a member.
Fast forward to this Monday, October 28, 2013, a year and eight months later, I finished my competent communicator manual. This meant that I had finished TEN prepared speeches with ten different objectives, in front of a group of my peers!
In the beginning, showing up at the meetings was slightly intimidating, not because of the people there, but simply because speaking in front of an audience was outside of my comfort zone. But I signed up for small functionary roles, slowly, I got ready for my first ice breaker speech. The saying that public speaking is more fearful than death – well, there is some truth to that. I was mortified! Nevertheless, I finished it without passing out. That was a good start!
I absolutely love my club – it is a very safe environment to practice, to try new things, and to fail. The members there are so encouraging and helpful with feedback. One of the special things we do is recording the speech and the evaluation on a dics so we can see ourselves later.
Another marvelous tool is that we vote for best speaker, best table topics, and best evaluator at each meeting*. Rewards encourage people to continue. This morning as I organize and put away my Toastmasters folder, I see all the ribbons I got. It was so gratifying to see how far I have came!
With each speech, I received feedback from both evaluator and the members. I have to thank everyone for their input and participation of my journey. Without this, I would not have completed my ten speeches. I’m grateful to each of the members who have helped and supported me to finish this journey.
Thanks to Switch-On Toastmasters, I am more confident, not just as a speaker but also as a person. Having completed ten speeches indirectly helped me to discover who I am and what I want to achieve. Additionally, having met some awesome friends who are always striving to be better is a strong motivation to be a better person, one speech at a time, one evaluation at a time, and one table topics at a time.
*A Toastmasters meeting is structured with three parts: prepared speech, table topics, and evaluation. Prepared speech allows members to practice a speech within a particular manual; table topics hone the skills of thinking and speaking on the spot; and finally evaluation gives each prepared speaker the chance to receive feedback on the speech as well as each evaluator the opportunity to speak. Additionally, there are numerous functionaries that help to provide feedback throughout the meeting.