By richard davie, VPPR, the sAINTS toastmasters

Death is the number two fear that people have and public speaking is the first!” - Sydney Sheldon.

This is exactly how I used to feel anytime there was a mention of Speech and Me in the same sentence. With all my energy, I would duck, dodge, weave to avoid those two words coming together, but with more and more certainty and with ever more regularity, Speech and Me would collide.

A few times in my past I had heard of Toastmasters, but didn’t pay any real attention and had made no attempt to discover more.  I had attended speech events both formal and informal and had sometimes mentioned to people sitting near me how well the speech had been delivered.  “He/She is a great speaker and also a Toastmaster”, came the reply, or once “He compered my wedding, he is a certified Toastmaster”.

After hearing this a few times and also overhearing a few discussions at work about Toastmasters and meetups, it was time to find out more.

The next day I hit the internet and it didn’t take me long to find a local club, a contact and the timings when they meet.  The location suited me, the timings looked good, so now all I had to do was call…

So I did... and I here I am now. I have completed my Speechcraft course, I am well on my way to attaining my Competent Communicator certificate and have met many wonderful motivating people along the way.  I won’t say it was easy, but neither was it too hard. The process is gradual and you progress at your own pace, supported by a Mentor and the other club members.  Starting straight from the first speech, “The Ice Breaker”, you learn you are not alone in your fears but practice, feedback and continual improvement will get you to the end.

There are two types of speakers.  Those who get nervous and those who are liars.” – Mark Twain

By participating in the club meets, taking up roles during meetings, practising table topics and delivering speeches, I have grown and have also been able to support and see the growth in others around me, as Toastmasters is not only about speaking but also about Leadership and growing yourself.

A quote from a fellow Speechcrafter "The Speechcraft course was fantastic.  Knowledge dispels fear."

Effective communication and leadership skills opens a new door to the world and as Warren Buffet said,”If you can’t talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.

You have nothing to lose.