My first experience at Speak Out! Toastmasters was like a dream. I remember being in awe of the talented speakers, but most impressed by the one who seemed to be leading the meeting. Being as it was my first time at a Toastmasters meeting, I had no idea the flow of the meeting or even what was going on! However, I did catch on, rather quickly, that there was a leader guiding the club flawlessly through the agenda. This leader, as I came to find out later on, was the Toastmaster. Fast forward months later, I found myself preparing for my first time role as Toastmaster.
I had put off taking the role for almost six months but had no problem diving into speaking roles, functionary positions and individual evaluations. I had even stepped up to the role of Vice President of Education! With all this under my belt, I still would not take on being Toastmaster of a meeting. One day, my ducking and dodging finally caught up to me when Club President Andrew Palomino personally asked me to the Toastmaster for a meeting in two weeks. I gave a meek smile and nodded yes. As the weeks built up to my big role, I tried to sneak out of it by telling Andrew I was way too busy with school to follow through. However, he quickly countered that he would be a resource for anything that I needed. “Dang,” I thought, “I’m really going to have to do this thing.”
The week was upon me and I was feeling more confident about the upcoming meeting on Saturday. I had a boost of confidence because Andrew had contacted me throughout the process to go through the flow of the meeting and Ryan, a member of Speak Out!, had reached out to me to offer a guiding hand. Ryan was signed up to be the General Evaluator for the same meeting and promised he would help me along the way.
The day finally came. I was introduced as Toastmaster for the day, and there was no turning back. As I stood at the lectern, looking out upon the encouraging faces of my fellow members, I felt a calmness wash over me as I uttered my opening sentence. The meeting progressed, each portion of the meeting going off without a hitch, and I looked out into the audience once again and realized there was a team of beaming smiling faces looking back at me. I felt confident.
I do not always take the time to look back at my speeches or my other roles. As I write this blog, I have a unique opportunity to ruminate about my first time as Toastmaster. My first impression of the Toastmaster was that she led the meeting, like a noble warrior leading her troupes. Now, I realize that the role of Toastmaster (or any role for that matter) is a group effort. I was not alone in the process; Andrew and Ryan reached out to me and offered their time and experience and members gave me encouraging eye contact and smiles.
In the end, I know that my experience in Speak Out! Toastmasters will be one of individual growth. However, the encouragement, challenges, constructive evaluation, and positivity I receive from my fellow Toastmasters lets me know that I am not on this journey alone. And where will my journey take me next? Table Topics Master, General Evaluator….