I lacked confidence in the past. No, there was not even a hint of confidence I guess. But I am thankful that transformation happens. From a shy and reserved person, I grew in confidence and competence through the years. It took a long time. It was not an overnight change. But that better change happened.
One of the side benefits of growing in confidence and competence in my communication skills is me winning 2nd Runner Up in the 2016 District 75 International Speech Contest in Toastmasters.
There were a lot of factors that contributed to this growth. People. Events. Organizations. And a whole lot more. But today, let me share with one – which I call my ‘speech laboratory.’
I have come to know about this ‘speech laboratory’ when I visited IAME & Associates Toastmasters Club in Makati City sometime in 2010. This club is one of the 15,400 clubs that make up the global network of Toastmasters International with meeting locations in 135 countries. In the Philippines (District 75), there are 170+ clubs distributed in the 11 different divisions across the archipelago.
On my second visit to the club, I became a member. On my third visit, I delivered my very first prepared speech in Toastmasters. And since then, I kept coming back, delivering speeches, and receiving constructive feedback. It was a very rewarding experience.
When I moved back here in Baguio last year, I immediately found a home in Pines City Toastmasters Club. Just like the first club that I joined, the people there are so friendly, supportive, and they share the same passion of improving themselves.
Months later, I came to know them better. And as I come to know them better, I also see that we are growing better in our communication and leadership skills. I am so happy being around them. Their passion to learn and improve their public speaking skills is contagious. My Fridays (1st, 3rd, 5th of the month) with them are packed with fun-filled learning.
Yes, this is my speech laboratory. We don’t have a professor lecturing but ‘learning professors’ fill the room. Our sessions which we call Toastmasters meetings are learn-by-doing workshops where you get to deliver your speeches and get evaluated in terms of content, organization and delivery. Toastmasters get to follow a series of communication and leadership programs developed by this 90+ year-old global organization. As a member, you will be receiving manuals and magazines straight from the World Headquarters in California. You can also visit any Toastmasters Clubs around.
Because of this, my ‘speech laboratory’ is not limited to my club. In Baguio alone, I have been attending three other clubs where I get to practice my speeches and evaluate other speakers as well. Whenever I’m in town and not doing training somewhere, I would also attend Baguio Ecozone Toastmasters Club on Mondays, Baguio Funshine Toastmasters Club on Thursdays, and Synergy Toastmasters Club on Wednesdays and Fridays. Meetings on these weeknights have been helping me maximize my membership in Toastmasters and hopefully been helping other members in their learning, too. In Toastmasters, we support each other, learn from each other, and grow together.
In Toastmasters, I have found a ‘speech laboratory’ where it is safe to fail and learn from the experience.
If you want to improve your communication or public speaking skills, I invite you to visit any of the Toastmasters Clubs near your location.
Communication or public speaking skills are not taught, they are learned. Yes, attend seminars and read books about it, but find avenues to practice it. While I conduct seminars and workshops on public speaking, I would always point to ‘speech laboratories’ where one can further their learning and practice.
You need a ‘speech laboratory.’
In Toastmasters, I found mine.
You may want to try it, too.
Live your life, young mind!
PS: If you’re in Baguio City, you can visit our club – Pines City Toastmasters Club. For more info, visit our club website at www.pinescity.toastmastersclubs.org or email email@example.com
(Chris Dao-anis aims to empower his fellow young minds with practical instruction and inspiration in the fields of communication and personal leadership. He authored three books to date: The Gift of the Ordinary, 7 Keys to Achieve Your Aspirations, and the soon-to-be-launched Living Large in the Little Things. For talks, seminars and speech coaching, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can order his latest book at a specially discounted price at www.chrispoweracademy.com/livinglarge. You are also invited to the FREE Living Large Seminar & Book Launch in Baguio City on Sep 10. Register today at www.chrispoweracademy.com/lls.)