Kurt’s Story – A Toastmaster Member’s Testimonial
submitted by Joseph Helwig
I was always very impressed when I saw people excel at public speaking. Although I always enjoyed the thought of being a great public speaker, every time I had to prepare for an upcoming speaking engagement it always caused me great deals of stress. I also noticed early in my career my reluctance to speak up in meetings due to a lack of confidence at addressing large groups. I could tell this was going to hold me back in my career and personally it was unsatisfying to not contribute to group discussions; we all want our voice to be heard.
It was about this time in my career that my Grandma was boasting about how a few of her other grandchildren were winning speaking competitions and encouraged my brothers and I to join toastmasters. I took her up on that suggestion and looked up a local club in Calgary. That’s where I found Chinook toastmasters. I was very impressed with the club, from the very start everyone there was very friendly and inviting, and the speakers were quite impressive. So I joined the club and slowly began completing speeches and improving addressing large groups with confidence.
What impressed me most at the meetings was the experienced toastmaster’s ability to tackle the table topics questions. The thought of delivering a miniature speech without preparation on a topic unknown to the speaker until right before the speech has always been terrifying to me. Early in my toastmaster career I always got extremely nervous before the table topics sessions. But through practice and numerous times delivering table topics speeches, I can now confidently respond to table topics, and enjoy doing so.
After three years in toastmasters I ended up relocating cities for work and moved to the same town as my grandmother lived. At this time my grandmother invited me to her toastmasters year-end barbeque event. Just like the first toastmasters club I attended, everyone there was extremely friendly and accepting. I later joined her club and throughout the past year I have had an excellent experience there. The Sunny South speaker’s club definitely has a different feel than the Chinook toastmasters club. It is a much smaller club, and as a result there are ample opportunities for speaking roles. There is even friendly heckling, as all the members know each other so well. But the one thing remains consistent between the toastmasters clubs, it is a very supportive environment where all the members can share their ideas, gain confidence public speaking and improve their ability to communicate effectively.
It has been a real treat to be able to attend the weekly meetings with my grandmother. It is something we both enjoy doing and a way to spend time together in a different way than usual. We often carpool to the meetings, and we always leave the toastmasters meetings with a smile on our faces and lots to talk about.
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