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Why Toastmasters?

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It may sound trivial to you; what should be difficult about communication. Something we do every single day, almost every single minute…Why would you want to improve it? 

“The success in your life greatly depends on how you communicate with yourself and your environment” .

I can’t remember who said it but it stuck with me. And this is when I finally decided that it is time to join Toastmasters, a plan I have had in mind for long but always found enough excuses not to do it.

Why would I voluntarily do something I have always been afraid of? Standing in front of a public and speaking? Why would I do something I have never felt comfortable about?

“Do one thing a day, that scares you” became one of many mottos I have.

I am sure that only by facing the fears, by looking them into the eyes we will be able to eliminate them. Something was telling me that I can be more effective in any area of my life and it will open more doors for me.

It has been almost a year since I joined the Toastmasters. And yes, the beginning was as I thought: jelly knees, shaking voice, sweating hands, the fear of being judged by others. The most challenging part of the meetings weren’t so much the speeches for me. When you deliver a speech you have time to prepare, to rehearse and this automatically gives you confidence. What made me really nervous were the impromptu speeches, called Table Topics. Table Topics is about developing your ability to organize your thoughts quickly and respond to an impromptu question or topic. The Topicsmaster will state the question briefly and then call randomly on a respondent, who then has to respond to a topic for about two minutes.

I would lie if I said that after a year my fear is completely gone, but it wouldn’t be true if I said I did not improve. I can say with confidence, that I have made a remarkable progress. First of all only after a few weeks I started to look forward to the meetings and instead of being nervous I was rather curious about them.

I now feel excitement rather than anxiety when being called to respond to an impromptu speech. I feel excitement, because I see it as another chance to practice what I would like to improve.

Isn’t empowering when fear is almost turning into a joy? It motivates you to face other fears you may have and makes you believe you can remove them.

Did I mention that Toastmasters is not only about communication? It also helps you to practice your leadership skills. In the club you have plenty of possibilities to practice it while assuming different roles starting from the Chairperson, Grammarian, Evaluator, Table Topic Master, etc…You can practice listening, critical thinking, planning and implementation, facilitation, motivation and other important leadership skills.

You may ask now, what has improved outside of the Toastmasters meeting? My answer is: more than I thought. At work I have noticed that I feel much more comfortable when speaking at formal occasions. Sometimes I do not even prepare much for the meetings, as it became easy for me to quickly collect my thoughts and respond impromptu. I observe the same change in private life. The way I communicate changed in that my responses are more precise, shorter and clearer.

And last but not least it gave me confidence and a comfortable feeling in formal settings.

If you have ever played with idea of joining TM, or have never heard of the organization but wanting to improve your public speaking and leadership skills, all I can say DO IT. You will not regret it.

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