I originally joined to get more comfortable speaking up in meetings at work, but it’s become so much more than that. Toastmasters gave me the confidence to not only speak in these roles, but also to lead the meetings comfortably. I even got promoted! Toastmasters of course gets full credit. There have been surprising benefits that have bled over into my personal life as well, I’ve gone back to school for my masters degree and have used the skills learned in Toastmasters for multiple classes. On a more silly note, after a year of Toastmasters I had gained the confidence to compete in a coding competition. My second time competing, I won! Toastmasters has been invaluable to me. While I can’t say I’m a professional speaker by any means, I’m miles better than the red-faced stuttering ball of nerves I used to be.
I joined Liberty Lakers Toastmasters Club #399 in April 2005. Initially, I joined because I was in a sales organization trying to coach my sales team on how to do the business. As I got to know them, it was not uncommon for several of them to come to me and say, “Jacque, when I first met you, you intimidated me.” I would then ask them what I was doing or saying that intimidated them. Their answer was something like, “I don’t know exactly, but I’m glad that you don’t intimidate me anymore.”
When I mentioned these strange conversations to my mentor, he suggested that I join Toastmasters. Soon after I joined, I was assigned a mentor. After working with me for a few months, she told me that there were two things she saw that could be off-putting to some. One was a posture that I frequently demonstrated. The other vocabulary choices I frequently used. She helped me identify times that she observed these behaviors and begin to consciously change them. I could have fixed the problem and left; however, I discovered the world of speech competitions and became interested in competing.
When I began working as a contract trainer, honing my skills, especially in the need to incorporate humor into my presentations, became more crucial to my success. My continued participation in Toastmasters became a steppingstone to my success as a trainer.
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