When I started my Toastmasters journey five years ago, I did not quite know what to expect. I started on June 1, 2014, when an impending work presentation left me riddled with anxiety. Write a complex software application? No problem. Give a 45-minute group presentation in front of leadership? No way!
Heck, five years ago, I would not have wanted to give a presentation of any length! Since then, I have given countless speeches both inside and outside of Toastmasters. From the two-minute impromptu talk to the ninety-minute performance, things generally went well. I still have some anxiety, but I can be successful.
Many think that Toastmasters is all about making speeches. Definitely, public speaking and communications are a large part of the Toastmasters experience. But, Toastmasters is also “Where Leaders are Made.” Over the years, I held multiple club officer positions ranging from Secretary to President. In some cases, I held various positions concurrently. I also had a district-level role for two years.
These leadership experiences allowed me to understand and practice my leadership style. It helped me grow from individual contributor to team lead and collaborator. It got me out of the office and into the classroom where I have shared my IT knowledge and experience with multiple colleges.
Toastmasters also has increased my resilience to change. While there is structure in a club meeting, variance and unpredictability forced me to adapt to changes. The scheduled speaker didn’t appear, and a speech needs to happen? No problem. Need to cut my presentation because the previous one went longer than expected? Again, no problem. Our preferred meeting room is booked, and we need to move to a smaller place? Not ideal, but no problem.
While I do not know where Toastmasters will take me next, I look forward to the next change!
[This article was originally posted on LinkedIn]