What are you grateful for in your life? It has been found that people who are grateful are happier than those who are not. So I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude towards Toastmasters and the amazing people who have made my Toastmasters journey so much more memorable.
I still remember my first Toastmasters experience – my first class of Speechcraft on a cold July evening back in 2010. As I parked my car at the car park of the Rowland Hassal Public School, I didn’t have any expectations but a fear of the unknown. I didn’t know what was awaiting me. As soon as I entered the room, the fear instantly vapourised as I was welcomed by friendly faces of experienced Toastmasters such as John Nichols, Alicia Dennis, Wendy Nielsen and Michael Said to name a few. The then President David Griffiths quickly warmed up the chilly evening with a welcome speech that left me speechless and convinced me that I had come to the right place to improve my communication skills.
The amount of encouragement and support on offer was something I had rarely seen before. You know how some memories stick with you forever? That was one of them for me. I was expecting it to be a traditional classroom environment where the teacher does most of the talking and the students do most of the listening. Being a seasoned uni student/graduate, I had assumed the first week would be a cruisy one. But boy was I wrong! We were thrown into the deep end from the word go with table topics and the icebreaker speech on the first night! I had never prepared and delivered a speech at such short notice ever before. After giving my speech, I thought I had failed. But Lyndal Eager’s kind and generous evaluation made me feel ‘It wasn’t that bad after all! I can do this again!’ Thank you to all the Toastmasters who volunteered their personal time to help me become a more confident communicator.
After graduating from Speechcraft, I naturally decided to join Toastmasters as the next stepping stone in my public-speaking journey. The most vivid memory I have of my first club meeting is the friendly welcome I received from Linda Snalam (who I had never met before) who made me feel at home the moment I stepped in. The ambience was obviously a lot more formal than Speechcraft. But the level of support and encouragement was still evident. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have won the ‘Best Speaker’ award for my first speech. In Toastmasters, people want to see you succeed from Day 1. And that kind of expecation pushed me to keep learning and improving.
Having a mentor like Peter Steinhour taught me that you don’t have to be the best looking guy to be good on stage (and popular with the ladies). What matter more are the words you speak, the aura you create around you and how you make people feel. So thank you Peter for the wisdom!
The next stage in my Toastmasters journey was as a Social Media Officer within the executive committee of 2011-12. This new venture would not have been possible without the support of the executive committee members from last year. Our webmaster DTM Gary Wilson and the Immediate Past President Sam Ekinci deserve a special mention for having the vision to realise the power and potential of social media within Toastmasters. It is due that vision that now we, the members of Parramatta Toastmasters Club, have a voice, not just within the four walls of Linden Room, but also on the Internet, communicating to a worldwide audience.
Last but certainly not the least, you, the reader, deserve a special thank you for reading this blog and being part of our social media journey. As John Nichols rightly pointed out, it’s all about the people. It’s the amazing people in Parramatta Toastmasters that make me want to travel 3 hours to and from a club meeting every second Thursday, despite the abundance of clubs closer to where I live.
What are some of the Toastmasters experiences that YOU are grateful for? Feel free to leave your comments below.
Nirish is a member of Parramatta Toastmasters Club and a User Experience Consultant by trade. When he’s not speaking in public or designing experiences for his users, you’ll find him tinkering with his DSLR in front of a sunset, testing his fiancé’s patience.