As a kid I looked up to my extended family. They always seemed to be involved in one group or another, whether that was my aunty with her bush walking club, or my grandmother with her music and social clubs, or my wonderful uncle who was a trumpet player in a band and was a part of a group called Toastmasters.
All I knew about Toastmasters was that people stood up in front of groups of people making speeches! I’d always imagined Toastmasters to be held in a large theatre with a few hundred people, much like a lot of TED Talks I’ve seen on You Tube.
I’d thought about having a look at Toastmasters off and on over the years, but I’d never quite gotten around to it. It became more of a need over the last few years, as running a small business, I’ve needed to do a lot of networking which has involved standing up and talking about my photography business to people in my networking groups. The idea of doing a 10-minute presentation scared the hell out of me.
I joined our local Toastmasters group a little over a year ago and much to my relief the groups are much smaller than I originally anticipated, and I have gotten so much more out of it than I bargained for.
Our group is a rich mix of different cultures and lifestyles. All of us coming together each week to share our stories in a welcoming supportive environment. Not only have I gained some valuable experience speaking publicly in a non-judgemental environment, but I’ve also learned some valuable leadership skills.
Each week we all take on a different task and that can be, by way of supportively giving feedback on what was good and what could be improved, leading the meeting, to timing or giving the evaluators feedback on how to improve their evaluations. Which of course comes in handy when you need to give advice to colleagues in the workplace.
The best part for me is hearing everyone’s stories. Given we have such a diverse group of people in our club we’ve heard some amazing stories of struggles and triumph, different perspectives on world and local issues and great stories of some laugh out loud adventures.
The friendships we’ve started to form with various members is a nice bonus. Did I mention my husband also joined? We both run our own businesses, so we thought it would be a good idea for us both to become members!This has become date night for us! My husband is doing exceptionally well and is hoping to fulfil a little dream of his to do some stand up comedy one day.
So here are some key points to remember about Toastmasters
There are almost 16,400 Toastmasters clubs worldwide with 90 here in Perth alone
Toastmasters is an excellent way to develop your public speaking skills
Toastmasters is a supportive and nurturing environment
Toastmasters can help develop leadership skills
- Toastmasters is a not for profit organisation. Their mission is to empower individuals to become more effective communicators and listeners
Toastmasters is a cost-effective way of developing a new skill set
Toastmasters is an entertaining way to spend your time
Toastmasters is a great place to develop new friendships
Toastmasters can help you improve your English, if English is a second language for you.
I am quite passionate about what a great organisation Toastmasters is, in particular our club in Ellenbrook. You will quite often find us all talking away excitedly out in the carpark after the meeting, buzzing from the nights events not wanting to go home. It really is a great way to grow.
To find out more about Toastmasters go to https://www.toastmasters.org/
Elana Halvorson Photography