I believe that learning to speak confidently and spontaneously in public is why some of us joined the Toastmaster club.
In fact, my nightmares about public speaking started when I joined Royal hospital. I was asked to give a presentation on a scientific topic a few months after joining the department. That was my first PowerPoint presentation in front of a mass audience. I spent days and nights preparing the slides and was an insomniac the previous night.
On the day of the presentation, when my name was called, I walked onto the stage, unsure about the whole thing. I was feeling light-headed, and my entire body was shaking as I stood at the podium. The podium was tall enough to cover my trembling body. I read through the slides with a pounding heart.
I further continued to struggle with public speaking. Then one of my colleagues introduced me to the Toastmaster club. Finally, I stepped into a Toastmaster club. Many smiling faces welcomed me. I saw the Toastmaster of the day walking to and fro on the stage, performing very confidently. I thought to myself, “I could never be that person”.
I remember my first impromptu speech. I got up on the stage and looked at the audience. The feeling of being stared at made me uncomfortable. Then I completely froze up. At the end of the meeting, one Toastmaster told me, “Don’t worry about mistakes; this is the place where you can make mistakes because that’s how you learn and grow.”
When I joined the club, I didn’t know what Toastmasters could do. Then my dear mentor gave a presentation on pathways and projects. I realized that I had joined a well-organized, goal-oriented community where all are ready to support and encourage each other and want everyone to grow.
She showed me what is envisioned within Toastmaster mentoring- “An unconditional support without any plan.” She listens to my vision and things that I want to improve. Because of her positive attitude, I have taken up various roles in the club, including Toastmaster of the day.
She guides me by giving tips and feedback on my performances. She asked me to add life and soul to my project speeches, which enabled me to secure the best speaker awards. I am leveraged by her hard work and commitment to achieving a common goal. Not only that, I am amazed by the incredible & remarkable improvement and transition of some of my fellow Toastmasters to a whole new level. I have been learning from all of them.
It has been one and a half years since I started my journey with toastmasters. I am pretty sure that I am more connected with people now. I have improved my self–confidence in speaking, listening and writing skills. I find some time to read as well. I develop not just in my public speaking, but as a person.