Wednesday, 22 March 2017

ToastMasters Journey

I had the opportunity to be part of a Toastmasters club a few years back, I actually went through the whole nine yard, registered and did my first speech. Unfortunately, life swallowed me and I dropped out. Fast forward to 2017, a colleague invited me to a meeting for kick starting the Toastmasters club at work I decided to take the opportunity without thinking twice. I guess the year 2017 is a year of dusting myself and polishing my skills. I honestly subscribe to self-improvement, learning new skills or polishing skills.

What is Toastmasters about you may ask? Let me share with you what I know so far about the concept. It is basically a nonprofit organization that teaches people about public speaking, communication, and leadership skills. You organize yourself, form a club and follow a set of rules and guidelines provided by Toastmasters Organization, to master the art of public speaking. The organization has been operating since 1924.

Why would anyone want to improve their communication or public speaking? My question is who would not want to improve their communication and leadership skills in this day and age? We live in a fast pace environment where making first impression is key to getting your message across. I have embarked on a journey to profile women entrepreneurs, from all walks of life who originally hail from my home province. I take this very seriously, I want to give it the attention and professionalism that it deserves. Toastmasters will help me polish my communication skills. I will get better at interviewing and presenting each and every story with clarity and energy it deserves. I am hoping that I will learn from this experience and grow as person. Spending time with Rachel Gadisi of RachelG Cake and Party has also motivated me to never stop learning and polishing my skills.

Going back to Toastmasters, I attended the first meeting and I must say I am excited already. The previous club president was more than eager to walk us through the rules and process of the club. Toastmasters is well structured, members give speeches, take meeting roles, and give guidance and feedback. There are roles that must be field by different members during each and every club meeting, this is meant to improve the member’s leadership skills.  It is about strength building by giving constructive feedback in a structured manner. I learned a lot from the meeting, it is not just about your written speech, but a combination of couple of technics in order to deliver the message and connect with your audience. It is about writing a speech that will talk to your audience not at them or talking past them. A good speech is 53 % presentation, how you present yourself, how you engage and connect with the audience. The tone and pitch of your voice also plays a big role when delivering your speech. I am going, to be honest, this is one area I am looking forward to mastering. I get very nervous and my voice fades away, I look forward to learning how to channel my nerves and speak with a stern confident voice, whether I am interviewing, presenting or selling something. I am looking forward to my journey into becoming a better communicator.

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