Once a retired gentleman said to me, “If I could do it all over again, I would learn two things at a young age. I would learn accounting and also how to speak in public. Looking back, I know how much those skills would have benefitted me.”
I would agree with him completely, and especially about public speaking. I had always felt awkward about speaking in public. Every time when I had to speak to more than two people, my heart fluttered. I wished to overcome that, but how? And luckily, I found out that there was a Toastmasters club in Nakusp and I joined in. That was six years ago, and today I feel that the Toastmasters’ experience has changed the way I am.
So, how did it change me? People tend to think Toastmasters is for improving public speaking ability, but it is far more than that. Toastmasters gives you practice to get out of your comfort zone.
Because we don’t have an instructor in our meetings, things are done on a volunteer basis. We volunteer to take on different meeting roles, and we volunteer to do speeches for the next meeting. Yes, we volunteer to do speeches knowing that two weeks later we’ll be standing in front of the audience with shaky knees. But getting out of our comfort zone on a regular basis is a good thing!
Another thing Toastmasters has given me is the realization that making mistakes is okay. In Toastmasters we learn how to do things by actually doing them. So, naturally we make a lot of mistakes in the process. But when we watch other club members doing the same thing and getting better at it, we realize that making mistakes is a learning process.
Our club members are supportive and eager to listen to each other’s speeches. Where else could we find an audience who is willing to sit and listen to our “not–so-perfect-yet-speech” time after time, and willing to give us feedback with a big smile?
We invite you to experience our meetings. Visit us! Arrow Lakes Toastmasters meet on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 7:15 p.m. in Nakusp at Selkirk College. For more information, contact Mayumi van der Pol at 250-265-0002.