My toastmaster journey has started and stopped, started and stopped and most recently just started again with you and this new club. Such is the life - the lucky life of an expat to move around the world and be part of different toastmaster clubs. Fellow Toastmasters and dear guests, even though I have stopped and started many times, this hasn’t changed my goals to improve my communication and leadership skills and to meet and practice likeminded people like you and of course to have the unique opportunity to do my icebreaker over and over again!
The first time I joined Toastmasters was back in 1999 in Canada and the reason I joined was that I was profoundly afraid of public speaking and it was affecting every path I wanted to take in my life. For example - There was no way I could advance in my career without being more confident speaking in front of others especially as I was as a media relation’s officer at the time. It was assumed that I was a good communicator and I was but I had the fear and lacked the confidence. I was also getting married in Denmark that year and was determined to make a speech at my wedding in English and Danish.
After I joined Toastmasters that first time, nothing was going to stop me to reach my goals except lack of self-confidence. But luckily I was paired with an amazing mentor who could see beyond the quiet and nervous public version of me and see the outgoing, chatty and real confidence I had inside. But after my icebreaker I swore that I would not speak again for a long time but my mentor wouldn’t hear of it! I soared through the first year I was with that club gaining my Competent Toastmaster Level and becoming Rookie of the Year. (See my vintage pin!) The only thing that stopped me on my journey was a move from Canada and another move and another move until 12 years later I found another club.
The second time I joined Toastmasters was in Bahrain back in 2012. I was drawn back to the Toastmaster experience because I needed the support and had not completed my journey. Again my fear was getting in the way of my personal and professional goals. I read my icebreaker speech with notes behind a lectern and all the feedback I got said was great speech, nice getting to know you but lose the notes. I made 4 speeches with the Manama Toastmasters and then we moved again to Qatar.
Six years later and I finally re-joined Toastmasters and I hope I will last much longer here! Of course life happened along the way during these 21 years since joining my first club from marrying my Danish husband to having 4 children and making a career in communications. Woven throughout these years is my strong desire to be a better communicator and leader. This has never changed. That’s why I am here again.
I now work with students and one of the things I work with them on are their presentation skills. I recall recently, my boss introducing me to her students as someone who loves to do presentations! And it’s true. It’s an amazing feeling telling your story and connecting with the audience. With students I am always blown away by their enthusiasm for public speaking. Some of them are naturals, some need some tips, some are deathly afraid and need a boost of self-confidence to know that they can do it. They need someone like me who will say “you can do this” even if it takes one, two, three icebreaker speeches and lots of starting and stopping – you can do this!