Confidence built over many a toast
IF THERE is one word that encapsulates an evening at Toastmasters, it’s confidence.
Whether you’ve got it or are looking for it, last week at the Mighty Clarence Toastmasters ‘open house’ showed the organisation had the ability to affect lives in profound ways.
Toastmasters is an international organisation helping people build skills in communication, public speaking and leadership for over 90 years.
The ‘open house’ was an opportunity for the Mighty Clarence club to showcase the unique format, which included several speeches – complete with an appraisal, some creative storytelling and the all important ‘table topics’.
Table topics is an opportunity for group members – picked at random – to talk for a minute or two on a surprise topic. And while it can be daunting at first, most agreed it quickly becomes one of the most popular parts of club life.
Delivering a seven minute speech entitled Reality Check was teacher Patricia Merz, who said the club had helped her to build confidence in speaking to groups, despite delivering just her fifth speech.
Ms Merz said being given dedicated tasks had been a primary reason she had been able to overcome those anxieties.
“When I’ve got something like that I’ve got to finish it, I can’t have it hanging over me. So that has helped me push myself,” she said.
Having been teacher for many years, Ms Merz said overcoming those fears was not the only motivation as she wanted to better understand what her students were going through.
“I felt as a teacher I needed to experience what my students were doing,” she said.
“I felt like I couldn’t expect them to overcome their fear if I wasn’t willing to do it myself.
“That’s what that’s what made me enjoy it, it is a really good feeling when you’ve just overcome that little bump.”
It was a similar experience for Tracie Causley who has gone on to become a district representative of Toastmasters from having trouble “speaking in front of a few people”.
“For me, I needed more confidence. I was going into a role where I’m communicating a lot one-on-one with clients and having to talk to committees,” she said.
“That just terrified me so I needed help to develop some more skills able to do that.”
Ms Causley said the her involvement in the organisation had helped her in a variety of ways, expanding her confidence in other areas of life.
“It’s something that you can incorporate into everything, I put my hand up for things that I wouldn’t have put my hand up for previously, because I know that I can,” she said.
“I have the confidence to be able to do that now where I didn’t have the confidence before.
“The thing is, it doesn’t mean that you don’t feel still anxious at times, but you feel that you’ve got the skills to be able to do it.”
The Mighty Clarence Valley Toastmasters meet at 6.30pm every first and third Wednesday at South Services Club in South Grafton.