Friday, 21 December 2018 22:49

How has Toastmasters changed your life?

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I joined Toastmasters in January 1994 because I was a shy introvert and was terrified of public speaking. I’m still an introvert, not so shy and I am a pretty good speaker, if I do say so myself.

My progress was slow in the beginning. It took me a while to get used to the program and to get past my fear of public speaking. Five years into TM, I found my voice. ‘Finding Your Voice’ was a TM slogan for a while.

I took on a Division Governor role for a year. I’m an RN and worked in a psychiatric inpatient unit. Days after taking on the Division Governor role, I was fired from my job as a result of my newfound voice.

I wasn’t aware of how toxic a workplace I was working in. In speaking out against the manager, I was targeted and summarily fired. The manager was a serial bully, and I was just another of her targets.

I had a strong union behind me. It took a year, however I eventually got my job back, in a different location. I’m still there, almost 19 years later. The bully manager eventually got her comeuppance and was fired herself.

This isn’t a ‘woe is me’ tale. Many people given similar circumstances have gone on to develop PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). I chose not to have that as my future.

My role as Division Governor that year, gave me something to focus on, while I recovered.

It took a few years to get over the incident. And I have only delivered a few speeches about my experience. The event also affected me at work for a while. I was very angry and suspicious of my managers and co-workers for quite a while.

In my role as a nurse, I don’t get the opportunity to speak to larger groups. However, my leadership skills and self-confidence do come into regular play at work. That doesn’t mean they were appreciated though. It has taken a good decade or so for my Team Leader to finally accept that my leadership skills weren’t a threat to her. We are buddies now. Well… perhaps not that close!

While Toastmasters hasn’t necessarily advanced my nursing career, it has opened up numerous opportunities in life and my non-working career.

I’ve gone on to serve in every Toastmaster role including: District Governor, Past District Governor, Division Governor X2, Area Governor X2, Public Relations Manager, District Webmaster, conference co-chair, conference co-emcee, conference organizer, Conference consultant for some dozen or so district conferences. The list could go on and on… well, actually it does…

From starting off being shy and terrified of public speaking, I went on to have a Master of Ceremonies business. I served as the Vice President of Training for a local entrepreneur’s society, organizing some 30 or so monthly Townhall meetings. I eventually became the Chairman of the society.

I also taught school for a year at a private college. My TM training came in handy there. My first teaching assignment was teaching an anatomy & physiology class on sex education to twenty, middle-aged women. I was late thirties and of the male persuasion. It was definitely challenging.

Delivering countless numbers of speeches has lead me to writing books. I currently have nine self-published books available for sale on-line in places including Amazon. They are all of the nonfiction, self-help genre.

I’ve recently launched my own self-publishing company to market my own books as well as to help other writers become published authors. I currently have six books in various stages of development for future publication.

One of my books I’m working on is ‘Even More Power Networking for Shy People’ and is an updated version of my ‘Power Networking For Shy People: Tips & Techniques for Moving from Shy to Sly!’

My Toastmasters experience features heavily in my writings.

I’m close to retiring from nursing. The writing and publishing business will likely be my post-retirement plan. I’m still active in Toastmasters, going into my 26th year.

I had planned on relaxing a little this year after having a rather busy Toastmaster year last year with serving as VP Education for my club, District Webmaster, Conference Webmaster, District Public Relations Officer, Conference Educational Chair and conference presenter.

The year started off with being a POM (plain old member), however I’m back at being the District & Annual Conference Webmaster and substitute President for my club.

I’m expecting to earn my 2nd DTM this year and eager to see what the future will bring.

So, to sum up, Toastmasters has taken care of any free time I have had for the past two decades. It can definitely change your life for the better if you embrace it.


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