I set a goal a few years ago of getting paid to speak. So I headed to Toastmasters.
At the same time, I went back to school to study exercise science because I wanted to be more informed as a Zumba instructor. With a goal of one speech per month, I happily completed my CC in a year.
Now, not only am I a heart health speaker for the American Heart Association, I am also getting paid to speak about fitness and weight loss. I was even invited to present a talk on wellness trends at the upcoming NCHRA conference, HR West.
The best way I know to improve public speaking skills is to speak more and practice, practice, practice. Thank you, Toastmasters.
Janice Litvin, President
Las Juntas Toastmasters
After 9+ years with a company, they downsized and I was laid off – along with half the company. I was terrified of not getting another job; I hadn’t interviewed in over 9 years, plus I was concerned companies wouldn’t hire me because of my age. The first few interviews didn’t go very well. I was nervous, fidgety, I babbled and my mouth went dry. Something had to change; I had to figure out how to show up at the interview with more confidence and less fear. That’s when I found Toastmasters and decided that this might be just what I needed to help build my confidence and my communication skills.
I went to Toastmasters.org, searched for my zip code, and found the closest meeting at a day and time convenient for me – Alameda Tongue Twisters. I showed up at my first meeting and I remember being very impressed with how organized the meeting was, how interesting the speeches were, and how supportive the members were. They called on me for Table Topics and, although I was terrified, I participated and ended up getting the ribbon. What a rush!
After a few months, I was finally able to get an interview with a company I’d been stalking – Oops, I mean researching – since I’d been laid off. My skills got me the interview, however, I truly believe my participation in Toastmasters (confidence from giving speeches, listening skills from giving evaluations, and being able to quickly organize and express my thoughts from participating in Table Topics) got me the job. I later found out the company interviewed several people for the position – all younger than I – but I was offered the job.
The company I work for has a corporate Toastmasters club, Windmasters, which meets every Tuesday during lunch. Since it was so convenient, I had no choice but to join that club too. With Windmasters meeting Tuesdays at noon and Alameda Tongue Twisters meeting Tuesday evenings, I tell folks it’s “Toastmasters Tuesday.”
Through both clubs, I’ve improved my speaking and leadership skills by giving speeches and evaluations, taking on various club roles, being VP-PR, and planning club events. These skills have helped me communicate better, be more confident with speeches and presentations, improve my stage presence when singing, AND get me a job. If any of you find yourselves needing to find employment, there’s good news: the new Toastmasters Pathways program includes a job interviewing path. With the new Toastmasters Pathways program, I can honestly say, Toastmasters keeps getting better and better.
Valerie Lukecart, Vice President of Public Relations
Alameda Tongue Twisters and Windmasters
My Toastmasters journey started 9 years ago when I become became increasingly frustrated with my career. I wanted to have a larger role in product design, however, I struggled to communicate effectively in front of groups. I stuttered, couldn’t concentrate and became flustered. I always left meetings embarrassed.
After attending an open house, I knew I needed Toastmasters. Unfortunately, my communication skills did not improve overnight. My first few speeches were terrible. I found myself a nervous wreck after each speech with club members constantly reminding to “breathe.” Fortunately, Bioradical Toastmasters is a very supportive club that invested in me succeeding.
My key to success was getting involved in leadership. As Sergeant-at-Arms, I brought the meeting to order and introduced the Toastmaster. Each week, I stepped out of my comfort zone to fill this small role and speak. As the weeks went by, the steady stream of positive experiences pushed my fears aside; nervousness was replaced by self-confidence. My journey towards being a confident communicator and leader had begun. I continued that journey as I subsequently took on the roles of Vice President of Education and Club President.
My Toastmaster journey has taught me that self-confidence and skill mastery are learned only when we step outside our comfort zone. They cannot come from reading a book or listening to a motivational speaker alone. Learning is not a spectator sport. We must be playing the game.
With the above lessons in mind, I next looked outside my club for more challenges to conquer. Participation in both international and humorous speech contests helped me hone my speaking skills. I even managed to take 3rd place in the District 57 Humorous Speech contest. Serving as Area Director allowed me to work with outstanding club leaders and district officers and taught me how to motivate, organize and evaluate. Later while serving on TLI and conference committees, I learned to receive delegation and work on a team while working with some of the District’s best leaders. Most recently, as TLI chair I learned how to delegate, manage team communications, problem-solve, and manage a schedule. Each role I took on was a challenge; however, my skill level and self-confidence has risen with each new challenge.
The skills developed in Toastmasters are used daily in my career. As an R&D scientist I now speak to team members and customers all over the world as I help design, build and test scientific products. Because of Toastmasters I now speak with confidence. Do you want to increase your self-confidence? Then step out of your comfort zone and take on a new challenge. It will unleash the potential hiding inside you waiting to be discovered.
Kevin Thornton, TLI Winter 2017 Chair
Every month, we will be putting out a newsletter with information about what is happening in District 57, tools for success, club member spotlights, and more. Look out for the Toast Post newsletter in your inbox!
Check out the last few editions here: