A Publication of WTVP

Building confidence, enhancing communication skills, empowering leaders…

There is a special joy in becoming friends with members of community or corporate Toastmasters clubs. These groups of people work together to provide a supportive and positive learning experience that empowers everyone in the club to develop stronger communication and leadership skills—skills you can depend on now and in the future in your personal, professional and community life.

Personally, I think the biggest difference Toastmasters has made for me is summed up in an excerpt from the May 2013 issue of Toastmaster magazine: “The Toastmasters club experience encourages listening, and as a result, is a great place to learn from others.” Curious to learn of others’ experiences, I asked several Toastmasters how the organization had made a difference for them.

“I was in a country overseas for work and was asked to give an impromptu presentation,” shared one colleague. “Using the skills I gained in Toastmasters, I pulled together the details in 20 minutes and spoke in a warm and informative manner. Everyone was pleased, including me.”

“After attending just two meetings, it was a miracle,” declared another. “I was able to get up in front of my entire division and present my project report with clarity and conviction. The group even applauded.”

A member of Pimiteoui Toastmasters, one of the oldest Peoria clubs, Ed Slininger said, “Being a toastmaster gives you the keys to the kingdom of communication and leadership,” referring to all the resources for members on the Toastmasters International website.

“Just the thought of my first teleconference meeting as a newly hired Caterpillar engineer made me nervous,” answered Tim Kirby, a toastmaster since 2008. “Having 10 coworkers call into the meeting I was responsible to facilitate was enough to make my palms perspire. My supervisor recommended Toastmasters; I agreed only because I thought it would look good on my annual performance review. In my first Toastmasters meeting, just working up the courage to read the timer’s report was a challenging endeavor, but I managed to push through. From then on, I managed to give my first ‘icebreaker’ speech. Not only did I not perish at the front of the room as I feared I might, I actually did a pretty good job!

“I volunteered for various meeting roles, seized the club secretary officer position, gave a half dozen other speeches, and earned my Competent Leadership Award. I managed to get momentum working on my side, and kept the ball rolling. I found my performance rating improving at my current job, and soon I was appointed technical lead of a $1.5 million project. Shortly after, I accepted my dream job, traveling the world and harnessing my technical knowledge for an engineering sales support position to initiate a new product in the North American market. The seed that started it all, the origin of my momentum, was my very first Toastmasters meeting—realizing if I could push through my nervousness and fear to give a timer’s report or ‘icebreaker’ speech, just think of what else I could achieve. I have not looked back since!”

Investing in You
The answers to the question “How has Toastmasters made a difference for you?” were different, just like the profiles of the toastmasters themselves. Although no club is average, the numbers reveal there are slightly more women than men in the international organization, and more and more members between 18 and 34 joining every day. At least once a month, I hear someone say, “I wish I had known about Toastmasters earlier in my career.” Members come from a variety of cultures, educational backgrounds, and industries: professional, scientific and technical services; finance, insurance and real estate; educational services and more.

Toastmasters helps people outside of the workplace, too. While speaking to Bradley Club members at a recent meeting, Tabby di Caro, a residential engineer from Morton, said, “You gave me the confidence to believe in myself.” A toastmaster for only nine months, di Caro has been successful in club, area and division speech contests, and in April, won first place at the Toastmasters District 54 International Speech Contest in St. Charles with her speech entitled “Miracles.”

In central Illinois and all around the world, Toastmasters is dedicated to helping its members overcome their fear of public speaking, develop confidence and leadership strengths, and enhance their communication skills. A Toastmasters membership is one of the greatest investments you can make in yourself, and one of the most cost-effective skill-building tools available anywhere. For more information on Toastmasters International, visit iBi

Martie Ogborn, DTM has been a toastmaster for 11 years and is a distinguished toastmaster, past District 54 governor and assistant Division C governor – marketing.