The Art of Speaking  

A laughing adventure

When we embark on an adventure; we often have a goal in mind. 

When I started on my Toastmaster adventure at Kelowna AM Toastmasters, I had a totally immobilizing fear of speaking with strangers one on one. It was so bad, I avoided social gatherings. 

I soon conquered that fear with weekly practise and “gifts” – suggestions from members on how I could improve — given in a kind, positive way that made changing easy.

Along this journey, I also took some interesting turns and learned much more than I had thought possible. 

The first surprise — I truly learned to listen, to hear what someone was saying rather then having my own thoughts of what I wanted to say block out their message. 

I soon found out other people's stories and thoughts enriched my experience and learning.

The second turn in the road was a total surprise. 

I found having writing skills helpful when making speeches and organizing my thoughts. I hadn’t used these skills since school, and usually not in a very interesting way. 

Putting words to paper (yes, not on a computer until the final phase) and letting them ripen overnight soon let me see which word was worthy of presentation. 

This was fun!

On the way to becoming a Distinguished Toastmaster are 40 speeches to write and present, 40 opportunities to fine tune and grow. 

Didn’t see that coming.

The last surprise turn in my Toastmaster journey, so far, is storytelling. I love hearing other members’ stories and adventures.These stories often continue after the meeting at coffee. 

Hearing others’ adventures gives me great satisfaction and I love to make them laugh at my escapades. 

Toastmasters creates a learning environment that welcomes the sharing of experiences and nurtures self betterment.

My adventure in Toastmasters is not even remotely over. 

  • It is a place where I can learn, share and grow weekly. 
  • It’s a place where I can laugh and cry without judgment. It has become a place where I have an eclectic group of like-minded friends – life-long learners. 
  • It is a place where anyone is encouraged to join the adventure to a more self-assured future.

PS: Kelowna AM Toastmasters meet at 6:45 a.m. on Thursdays at the Royal Anne Hotel, 348 Bernard Ave. Come join us. It is worth waking up for.

Sue Skinner, secretary of Kelowna AM Toastmasters, is an opera singer, actress, voice teacher and choral conductor.

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About the Author

The mission of a Toastmaster Club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment that offers every member the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.

There are eight Toastmasters clubs in the Central Okanagan.

For more information and/or to find a club near you, check http://www.toastmasters.org.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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