Before being nominated for President, I seriously considered stepping down from any role in Toastmasters to take it easy for a year. I thought perhaps I could get some extra TV watching or extra time relaxing if I did not have to prepare for Toastmasters. It would be very nice to have a few more nights without having to worry about creating a speech, or preparing to be the Toastmaster, or racking my brain about what I should do for Table Topics questions. I thought hard about this and questioned why I joined Toastmasters in the first place. I knew that I had good reasons for joining Toastmasters. I knew that it would not always be comfortable, but I knew that through Toastmasters I could challenge myself to do things I would not otherwise do, in order to be more confident and successful. Today, I would like to share some of the reasons why I participate in Toastmasters.
One of the reasons I participate in Toastmasters is to practice communicating my ideas with clarity and confidence. When I first came to Toastmasters, I was petrified. I started breathing fast, I start trembling [bite nails, wring hands, look down, pace back and forth], I started sweating profusely and I did not even have to get up and speak. It was just the thought of someday having to speak in front of everyone. I have fears of forgetting what to say, I have fears of not having anything interesting to say. Toastmasters is a safe place where we can overcome our fears of speaking, were we are allowed to make mistakes, where we can practice speaking of front of others, and where everyone has to listen to you.
A second reason why I participate in Toastmasters is to develop leadership skills. The great Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry said “Leadership is getting someone to do what they don't want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.” Most of us would rather have more time for leisure, but in the back of our mind we want to grow and work on becoming a better communicator. Being a leader requires not only pushing yourself to work toward that goal, but it also means challenging others toward their own goals. As a leader in Toastmasters, we challenge others to give speeches, to fill Toastmaster meeting roles, and to overcome that next hurdle to help them become a successful communicator.
Another reason that I participate in Toastmasters is that this is a great environment to be creative. Toastmasters give us the freedom to experiment with new ideas. We can give a speech about anything. We can come up with a fun Toastmaster meeting theme or a challenging Table Topics. I have seen a Table Topics that are based on the fortune in a fortune cookie, or I have seen a presentation on Toastmasters given as a game show. Toastmasters allows us to think from a new perspective and actually try out these ideas. With Toastmasters, creativity is part of the club and is greatly encouraged; as long as you stay within the allotted time [say it as a parent does].
The final reason why I participate in Toastmasters is to develop evaluation skills. How many just jump up and down [jump up and down] with excitement at the thought of being evaluated. It is like going to the mechanic. You know you will hear things you don’t want to hear. You need to fix the brakes, the timing belt needs to be replaced, and your tires are worn, But just as your car needs a tune-up, our speaking and leadership skills also need a tune-up. But many times it feels like evaluations are always associated with negative criticism. However, the purpose of evaluations is to give helpful suggestions for improvement. Toastmasters is a great atmosphere for us to learn how to give constructive criticism that motivate and help the speaker. Toastmasters also helps us [start moving elbow back and forth] with the capability to take feedback and understand what are our strengths, and also help us see possible annoying habits and areas that we need to improve.
After being a little reluctant to be the Toastmasters President, I would like to say that it is my honor to help serve this club. Toastmasters is a place for us to get over our fears of public speaking, it allows us many avenues to practice leadership, toastmasters helps us get creative, and toastmasters helps develop the invaluable tool of effectively giving and receiving evaluations. These are but just a few of the many reasons why I participate in Toastmasters and it has been a joy to challenge and be challenged by my fellow Toastmasters.