Starting Salisbury Speakers: a Presidents Perspective – by Karen Chapman

Earlier this year, Salisbury Speakers celebrated becoming a chartered Toastmasters club! It has been a challenging experience and a steep learning curve for me personally but it has been one of my proudest achievements. I was lucky to have fantastic support from the local community, neighbouring Toastmaster clubs and Area/Division/District management, and through this, I have met so many amazing people, and have had unique experiences such as speaking on BBC Wiltshire radio.

Before this particular journey began, I was a huge advocate for Toastmasters as I had conquered my fear of public speaking by being a member of Spinnaker Speakers, in Portsmouth, for just over a year. I moved to Salisbury for my job but soon realised there wasn’t a Toastmasters club local to me. Inspired by the story of Spinnaker Speakers being set up, I decided to set a club up in Salisbury. I soon resourced support to join me on this journey, and after a few months of planning, we had our first meeting 5th December 2016, and I became founder and President.

Our main focuses were spreading awareness within the local community to gain members and also ensuring fun and educational meetings, along with a friendly atmosphere, in order to maintain membership. Our main challenges were getting all the essentials (and beyond) done without a full committee (for a few months I was five committee members in one which was a struggle!). But members soon agreed/volunteered to lend a helping hand, from taking on meeting roles and small tasks to becoming full blown committee members. Salisbury Speakers has some brilliantly talented members who were able to put their skills to good use in order to develop the club.

The club now has dedicated support from many members who continue to give up their time in order to enable the club to continue growing. The club is continuing to thrive as the local community becomes more aware of our existence and as the club matures as an established Toastmasters club. I’m excited going into the next Toastmaster year to pass the Presidency baton to a fellow Salisbury dweller; allowing that person to have the same developmental opportunities as I did. I am hoping the next President will be able to take Salisbury Speakers to the next level in terms of increasing the rate of new members joining, introducing special events and educational meetings, and embracing Pathways in order to continually develop our members.

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