My Journey With Toastmasters
by Rowena Penaranda
The first time I attended a Toastmasters meeting was in 2007 to practice delivering my first technical speech given at the International Water Conference in Orlando. Toastmasters gave me the opportunity to practice in front of a small audience and receive constructive feedback. After surviving my speech in Orlando, I decided to continue my journey with Toastmasters.
At that time, Toastmasters had two parallel tracks in their educational program, now known as their legacy program: Communication and Leadership. I completed the Competent Communicator manual (10 speeches) during my first year, then began the Leadership track. My experience with Toastmasters evolved even further when I accepted the role of VP Education in 2008. I was no longer watching from the sidelines; I became part of the my club executive. I helped members progress through their programs, set the theme of our meetings and helped organize the meeting schedules. In addition to Competent Communicator, I completed my Advanced Communicator Bronze and Competent Leader manual requirements.
Another great thing about Toastmasters is that it is a fantastic place to network. Through Toastmasters I met Dave and Mike, founding members who were also heading the Project Management group in Calgary where I worked. At the time I was a Process Engineer considering a transition into Project Management where I moved to and eventually took over Risk Management from Dave. I’ve met a lot of great people over the years and witnessed significant growth and development of many Toastmasters.
Toastmasters meetings are held with a specific agenda, giving participants the opportunity to hold different roles. As Chairperson you learn to conduct and manage meetings. The Evaluator role requires participants to really listen and provide feedback and gives speakers an opportunity to learn. There are rehearsed speeches (formal) and impromptu speeches (informal, otherwise known as Table Topics). All aspects of the Toastmasters program has been useful to me; both at work and in my personal life.
I frequently give presentations, chair and facilitate all sorts of meetings. I never imagined succeeding as a facilitator due to my shyness, but I managed to overcome that challenge. People think it’s strange that I still get nervous introducing myself at client meetings. I believe adrenaline is a good thing!
Today Toastmasters has their revamped educational program called Pathways; a new program that will take Toastmasters into the next century. Pathways is designed to help build the skills you need to communicate and lead. It is comprised of 11 paths that teach over 300 unique competencies: 1) Dynamic Leadership, 2) Effective Coaching, 3) Engaging Humor 4) Innovative Planning, 5) Leadership Development, 6) Motivational Strategies, 7) Persuasive Influence, 8) Presentation Mastery, 9) Strategic Relationships 10) Team Collaboration, and 11) Visionary Communication. If you want to learn more about Pathways, please go to Pathways Learning Experience
Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development, with over 352,000 members in 16,400 clubs in 141 countries. The world needs leaders. Leaders head families, coach teams, run businesses and mentor others. These leaders must not only accomplish, they must communicate. By regularly giving speeches, gaining feedback, leading teams and guiding others to achieve their goals in a supportive atmosphere, leaders emerge from the Toastmasters program