It’s been an eventful, enlightening and enriching experience since I joined the Toastmasters movement a year ago. Back then, I was still a green nervy young Toastmaster. Totally unpolished and unpoised.
Yet, a year on, who would’ve expected that I’d be able to go on Think, Speak, and Present on my feet? Even more so, to take part in a contest and emerge as first runner up amongst a host of other speakers? All in one year!
I think the wonderful thing about joining a Toastmasters Club is that the club provides you with a platform for falling, practicing and growing. There really is no failure, only feedback.
Every meeting and every activity provides an opportunity for learning and growth. The Table Topics segment trains us to think on our feet and speak off the cuff, while the evaluation segment encourages us to listen and observe attentively to gather information and frame our thoughts to deliver value and coherent messages with tact and thoughtfulness. How’re those for answering difficult questions during interviews and wriggling out of challenging situations?
Then there are prepared speech segments when speakers are given the chance to fuse their creativity and put their newly acquired skills to test. Learning and growth is guaranteed via the generous feedback shared by insightful evaluators and experienced Toastmasters.
Club visits and annual contests are also events which allow Toastmasters from all walks of life and background to come together to share and pit their wits against each other – all in the spirit of learning and growth. It’s after all, important to interact, share ideas and see what are the areas which we can learn from each other. Personally, I think I’ve benefited a great deal from participating in all these activities.
Though I’ve to admit, my learning journey in the Toastmasters Movement hasn’t been a bed of roses. There were times I had to contend with frustration and confusion as I continuously sought an answer on how I could expend my skills and take my performance to the next level. The answers didn’t not come to me immediately most of time. Yet, more often than not, it did. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I managed to breakthrough my limits from reflecting upon the insights bestowed upon me from evaluators and more importantly, the generous sharings from my mentor DTM Wekie Tay.
A more critical factor, however, I felt was the platform that the Toastmasters provided for me to continuously speak and experiment with the insights I gained from evaluation and strategies that I noted off other competent speakers when they spoke. (Hey, speaking is a universal skill… the strategies are generic and its principles are pretty common. Nobody said I couldn’t adopt or lift them for my use! *winks*)
Every experience provides us with an opportunity to grow. My walk in the Toastmasters Movement has indeed been an eventful and rewarding experience. Although I may have fallen a couple of times. Yet, not only have I returned unscathed, I have grown stronger with the support and guidance of many.
The Toastmasters Movement does change lives. It has changed mine. This is, however, only the beginning. The best, has yet to come!