Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Toast to Toastmasters

I joined Toastmasters International in May 2011.

I heard of Toastmasters while I was studying at University of California, Irvine about a year or two ago. At that time, however, my reaction was, “there is NO way that I’m going to participate!” Fair enough. I mean, who wants to be giving speeches in front of an audience when the thought of standing in front of two people is tormenting. I didn’t mind learning about public speaking-how important it is and how to be a good speaker-but I was not in the least interested in actually doing it.

That is where the problem lies for many of us. Listening to lectures titled “How to be a Great Speaker in Ten Days” or “How to Get More Twitter Followers” is not automatically going to make you a better speaker or get more people to ‘follow’ you on twitter. 

Finally, I decided to check out Toastmasters this April. I went to their main website and searched for a local club. I found a club in Cypress,CA called “The Talking Heads of Cypress” and saw that they were having a communications workshop in the month of April.

I was hooked after the first day. I met some of the nicest people who were dedicated to becoming better communicators and helping each other along the way. During this workshop, I gave two speeches and was asked to give impromptu answers to questions during a section of the meeting called “Table Topics”.

I officially became a Toastmaster in May and have given four speeches and participated in lots of Table Topics. Additionally, I became secretary of my local club and am ‘Contest Chair’ for a competition taking place this month. My job as ‘Contest Chair’ is to recruit volunteers, assign them a role, tell them their job requirements, and make sure they do their job on the day of the contest. I am also in close contact with our Area Governor (for Toastmasters International) and she has become my mentor.

If I hadn’t joined Toastmasters, I would not have gotten a chance to experience leadership. In my 22 years of existence, I had never taken a leadership role in any of the clubs or activities that I was a part of. It’s very different with Toastmasters. Everyone encourages you to become part of the leadership team and there are mentors available that can help you along the way.

I am so grateful for Toastmasters and I encourage all of you to join as well. Visit the website and click on ‘find a club near you’ and follow the prompts to locate a club near you. There is a club in almost every country! If you don’t have one close to you, start one! It’s a great way to improve your communication and leadership skills.

To read my ice-breaker speech, click here. To read my second speech, click here.

Do you know of any clubs that help you develop a skill? Make sure to mention them in the comments. I would love to know!

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