Debbie Falck

I am not a “natural” at public speaking. In fact, a couple of bad experiences while presenting papers at conferences should have put me off getting up in front of an audience ever again! A colleague suggested I try Toastmasters. So glad I did.

The people at our club are very warm, welcoming, enthusiastic and encouraging. The format of the meetings provides members with opportunities to learn and practice all types of speeches; impromptu or “off the cuff” type speeches, in addition to more formal speech presentations, both short and long, with or without notes. I appreciated being able to go at my own pace, and draw on the advice and experience of other members. Everyone at Toastmasters is genuinely keen to help each other develop their skills; an important aspect of the Toastmasters program is the opportunity to receive (and provide to others) positive and constructive evaluations or feedback on every speech, so you get to hear what you have done well, but also receive some valuable suggestions on how you can improve for next time.

From time to time the more experienced members of our club present “educationals” on various topics to provide useful tips on different aspects of preparing and delivering speeches. I have found these sessions on techniques such as voice projection, effective speech introductions and conclusions, how to tackle impromptu questions (also very useful for job interviews, cocktail parties or participating in work meetings!) extremely helpful, for my Toastmasters life, and my personal and work life.

Participating in Toastmasters meetings has definitely improved my confidence and ability to present research papers at conferences and give presentations at work meetings (my original purpose for joining). Toastmasters has also helped me develop my speaking skills in a range of work and social situations.

Please don’t just think about joining Toastmasters, just do it. You will be very glad you did.