In late April 2009 I walked through the doors of Woking Speakers Club. Little did I know that an entirely new world of learning, opportunity and growth would open up to me. I just thought I was going to a little club in a village hall!
At the time I was a part-time teacher and I went along to meet new people. I stayed because I saw that it could be really useful in helping me to understand how I came across as a teacher and, most importantly, help me improve. Most importantly though, Toastmasters showed me that I had something to say and that people were interested in hearing it. This was an eye-opener for me.
I got onto the leadership track quite early in my Toastmasters career. I offered to help, if it was needed and the reply was swift – “you can be the secretary if you like.” I thought that sounded pretty easy so I agreed. It turned out to be ensuring that the president didn’t drink too much wine before the start of the committee meeting – otherwise we’d never reach the end of it!
2009 was to prove a tumultuous year for me. I lost my job, moved house and separated from my husband within the space of a few months. I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to cope with all that without the support and fun that I had at my fortnightly Toastmasters meetings. Toastmasters showed me that I had more to offer than I was doing at that time.
I progressed through the roles of Vice President Education and President, after moving to Guildford Speakers Club. I have also served as Area Governor, Division Governor and Lt. Governor Marketing, as the titles were at that time.
At every stage I have felt unqualified for each role, yet there were always friends and mentors on hand to guide and encourage me on. Each role has had its own rewards and challenges, but overall I’m proud of the support I’ve been able to give to many of the clubs in our District.
This year as Program Quality Director, I hope to ensure all of our clubs become Distinguished. I want to share the Educational Program as much as possible, because so many members only scratch the surface of it.
There’s a very simple reason why I want to do this.
Toastmasters changes lives.
The Toastmasters International program has made an incredible difference to my life. It could be said that Toastmasters ruined my life as it was, because now, six years later, I am not at all like the woman who walked timidly through the doors of Woking Speakers in April 2009. Now I can speak confidently to large groups, contribute meaningfully to discussions with leaders in many different spheres, and share my experience with individuals to help them on their journey.
Toastmasters changed my life for the better, and now I want to ensure that the opportunity for growth and change is available to others. I won’t promise that your life won’t be turned upside down when you embrace Toastmasters, but I can assure you that there will be many friends to guide and support you as you travel.