I love belonging to the toastmaster community. I love the fortnightly meetings with my home club (Summerland) and I love the monthly meetings with the advanced club in formation (Infocus). I love the monthly exec meetings and the random meetings with other toasties in my travels.
I love how every time I get up to talk, I feel my speaking muscles flexing – if its the elaborate prepared speech or the unexpected tabletopics challenge. It pays off every single time I need to speak for my work- if it’s the prepared teaching or speaking opportunity or the unexpected radio interview or dinner party question – “so what do you do?”. (Always a tricky one to answer in two or three sentences before desert arrives!)
I love how it’s for me but it’s also about honing those skills I need to make my life easier as a professional artist – being able to graciously accept an award in a public forum is one of life’s often underated skills. Those moments I am on stage, thanking the organisers and the volunteers and the sponsors; when I’m comfortable enough there to maintain eye contact with at least the front row of the crowd, I am in fact making the sort of contact with my audience that often feels as important as the work itself.
It wasn’t always this way – being comfortable in your public speaking skin can be a learnt skill, even if, like any other sport, there are those who start out better equipped.
Thankyou toastmasters for the strength or your training program, and for those friendships I’ve made there that are strengthening me as a speaker, presenter and mentor, I don’t think I’d be where I am without your input.