It gives me great pleasure in accepting this invitation from the club’s Vice President of Public Relations (VPPR) to write about my experiences as a Toastmaster throughout the last two years.
As many of you know, I recently completed my Competent Communication Manual (CC) to become a “Competent Communicator”.
However, if you had told me after my ice-breaker that I would achieve my CC within two years, I would have thought you were being either rather silly or extremely polite.
But this is the Toastmaster way.
Ever since the first day in which an acquaintance of mine persuaded me (and metaphorically dragged me) to attend a Toastmaster meeting as a guest, everyone has been impeccably friendly and hospitable while exuding empathy, patience and motivation.
But to be honest, I might have joined earlier than I did.
‘Why the procrastination?’ you might ask.
Well, Stephen Dix (I’m sure he doesn’t mind me mentioning his name) had been trying to persuade me to join the club for about a year before I finally conjured up the courage to attend.
My fear of public speaking is due to a verbal stammer, and part of the speaking course Stephen and I had previously attended, advocated confronting your fears face-on.
So I did that and I finally became a paying member of Waverley Communicators in January 2012, and tentatively began my Toastmaster journey.
The club’s mentoring programme has been invaluable and provided me with Stephen as my kind and reliable personal mentor.
He gave me constructive feedback to improve my speeches. And as he delivered it punctually and accurately, it enabled me to stick to my personalised timetable. Therefore, I extend a warm thanks to Stephen for his kind remarks and suggestions.
In hindsight, my initial speeches went reasonably to plan.
The ice-breaker was an extremely effective and relevant way to introduce myself to the club and fellow members; in my CC2 speech I also managed to stick to the structure.
However, it became more challenging later on in the CC when I was obliged to hurl myself out of pre-determined comfort-zones.
For example, body movement and vocal variety were (and still are) very difficult for me, and because of that, I found it more challenging to speak persuasively.
Significantly, I have always relied on facts and figures to present my case. Now I understand the perspective that emotion and persuasion also win support.
But my journey isn’t finished!
This is because Toastmasters runs advanced manuals and with them I intend to enhance my areas-of-improvement to become more confident in front of an audience.
One of these areas is using my prepared script. I need to become more flexible with what I say in response to the audience.
Although I have had to accept, over the last two years, that there is no cure for a stammer, I feel the Toastmasters experience has remarkably increased my confidence at public speaking.
I would advise the Toastmasters programme to anyone!
It has given me direction in life while equipping me with skills which are valued by employers.
May I take this opportunity to thank all members for a great Toastmaster experience thus far.
Good luck to everyone in their Toastmaster Journey!
Post written by Ritchie Brown CC
Member of Waverley Communicators