My journey from stammer to public speaker

By Tia Atanasova 

Why did I join Toastmasters?

I haTia Atanasovave always had a very lively, energetic, social personality.  I absolutely love being around people!  But as a child growing up with stammer, it was hard for me to find my voice.  Engaging an audience, no matter how big or small, was a deep rooted fear.  On the one hand, it made me a good listener.  But on the other hand, it was holding me back from what I wanted – to be a strong and eloquent speaker.  Not being able to express my thoughts, I spent a sufficient amount of time reading, mostly classic Russian novels, Ancient Greek literature and philosophical essays.  I ended up having so much to say, but at the same time so little confidence to stand up and do it.

Perhaps things would still be the same if I hadn’t reached a point when I had to ask myself: “Where am I going in my life?”.  I did not want to be a product of circumstances.  I wanted to be a product of my own decisions.  Around that time I joined the McGuire speech therapy programme.  Shortly a
fterwards, a friend of mine told me about Toastmasters.  It sounded more like a distant dream, but I had enthusiasm and a strong belief that I needed to dive deep to reach my full potential.  Today, two years later, I believe that becoming a member of the Toastmasters family was one of the best

What is Toastmasters for me?

After my first Toastmasters meeting I knew that my time as a shy caterpillar had expired.  My wings were ready.  But how could I fly and reach the sky?

At Toastmasters I met people with truly beautiful minds who were willing to share their knowledge with me, help me spread my wings and turn into the butterfly I was destined to be.  They made me ask myself some of the toughest questions, but also provided me with guidance and unconditional support.  All this made me realize that everything I have ever wanted was on the other side of my fear.  Idecisions I have ever made!t was time to open the lid of my Pandora box and to put trust in myself and my abilities; to hold up my head and face my fears; to bring life into my dreams.  One step at a time.

The first speech I gave was my first move out of my cocoon.  I was standing on full display in front of an audience, looking at them with a genuine smile on my face, feeling as excited as I was twenty years ago when my beloved grandmother ordered the golden-haired doll of my dreams to be shipped especially for me all the way from Russia.  What gave me an even stronger sense of fulfillment was seeing my fellow members truly enjoying my speech.  Their laughter, tears of sympathy, followed by supportive and encouraging feedback were the greatest award any speaker could possibly wish for!  At that point I knew I was ready to train like an Olympian in order to improve my newly discovered passion of public speaking and use it in the best possible way – to bring a ray of light in to people’s lives.

What is the next step?IMG_2209

At Toastmasters the journey never ends.  There is always room for improvement for every one of us.  No matter what age and level, you can always learn something new, improve your skills and become a better version of yourself.   Last year I accepted the position of Vice President Public Relations at my home club, King’s Speakers in London.  I have just been elected as the next Area 33 Director of London Toastmasters.

What I like most about our beautiful, well organized and close-knit community is the fact that we are women and men from all races, nationalities and backgrounds who share the same passion for being excellent speakers and leaders.  I see this as a true reflection of the future.  I decided to accept these new roles and the responsibilities that go with them for one reason – I am passionate about making our future even brighter than the present.  By listening to each other, learning from each other and working hard, I believe we can achieve our mission to empower individuals to become effective communicators and leaders, and to build new clubs and support all clubs in achieving excellence.  We can do it!

By Tia Atanasova, Vice President Pubic Relations, King’s Speakers

Last Updated on 7th October 2020 by