I couldn't sleep the night before my first time training a class of new employees. I felt jitters throughout my body. Even though I knew the material inside and out, I was afraid someone would put me on the spot by asking a question. I'll also admit, since we're all friends here, there was an embarrassing amount of sweating going on. I’d like to say that I quickly overcame these symptoms, but it took years before I finally relaxed. If I had only joined Toastmasters back then, I could have saved myself a lot of sleepless nights.
I finally joined Toastmasters in 2016 to prepare for a presentation I was giving at an international conference. I knew Toastmasters would help me develop my speaking, but I didn’t expect the other skills I would grow through the club; how to lead a meeting, quickly organize my thoughts, and adapt to role changes.
It took me hours to write my first speech. Now I can craft a speech in less than half an hour because I no longer fear “it won’t be good enough.” The members of the club are wonderfully supportive. I’m not afraid to go out on a limb, to try new things, and most importantly to make mistakes.
New doors have opened for me since I joined. I just confidently submitted three presentation abstracts for another international conference, I started writing articles for a newsletter, I was in the local newspaper for earning my Competent Communicator Award, and I was a co-guest on a local radio station to talk about the club. I even discovered I love competing in speech contests. I can't wait to see what's next!
Joining Toastmasters has been one of the best decisions of my life. I relish the challenge and the resulting personal and professional growth. However, that’s not what keeps me going to the meetings every week; it’s because it’s so fun!