15 Years and Counting…
As of the 1 March this year, I have been a member of Toastmasters International for 15 years.
In some ways, it seems a long time, in other ways not. In that time I have:
- Been a member of 4 clubs, and am currently a member of Gledswood Toastmasters
- Achieved the level of Distinguished Toastmaster
- Won two Club and two Area International Speech Contests
- Prepared, written, rehearsed and delivered well over 100 speeches
- Competed in numerous contests
- Served as President of 2 clubs
- Served on a number of Executive committees
- Built a new Toastmasters Club jointly with Rhys Tague, DTM
- Served as a Club Coach of Gledswood Toastmasters jointly with Rhys Tague, DTM
- Served as an Area Director
How has that all benefitted me? Let’s have a look at me prior to joining Toastmasters…
When I joined Toastmasters in 2008, I was 45 years of age. I am a born Introvert who used to get so nervous around people even into my 20’s that my hands would shake if I lifted a drink to my mouth during a conversation. True.
I used to talk around people I knew but if a stranger joined the conversation, I would clam up. True.
Prior to joining Toastmasters, my only instances of getting up in front of people related to Photography. I have been a photographic judge since 1995 and used to judge at 10-12 clubs a year from 1995 through to the early 2010. Even though I was incredibly nervous, my passion for photography, and wanting to help people, had me speaking in front of an audience, evaluating their images.
There were times when I was offered a glass of water etc whilst I was up judging that I declined because people would see the glass shaking due to nerves, so I would politely decline it, even if I was thirsty… True.
A couple of times, I was physically ill prior to judging and often would not eat dinner before I was judging sometimes as I was worried I might be ill. Also true.
Making 2-3 comments on an image is very different to getting up in front of people and delivering a rehearsed or impromptu speech.
The night before I did my Ice-Breaker speech at Campbelltown Toastmasters, I could not sleep, or eat on the day of the speech. Wendy White, DTM, President of the Club at the time and friend, reminded me that ‘Toastmasters is a mutually supportive environment’ and every member knows how you feel as they have been through it.
Some of my nerves did go and I delivered the speech and funnily enough, I didn’t burst into flames!
Joining and committing to the Toastmasters programme has helped me in the following ways:
- Gained greater general confidence
- Am able to control my nerves prior to and during speeches and photographic judging
- Can do things in front of others without getting nervous
- Can walk up to strangers and introduce myself
- Has improved my networking skills
- Has improved my business capabilities
- I have no fear of public speaking now
- I have no fear of taking up leadership roles
- It has made me a better leader
- It has made me a better listener
- I can now evaluate better
- My ability to ‘think on my feet’ (impromptu speaking) has improved
- It improved my performance at job interviews (when I was an employee)
- Has enabled me to write and deliver coherent speeches
- Enabled me to compete and win speech contests (who would have ever thought?)
- Has improved my general writing capabilities
- Gave me the confidence to start writing Poems (over 500 now)
- Opened up opportunities outside of Toastmasters for public speaking including, VIEW, Probus, Photographic clubs, a business conference and Emceeing 3 family weddings
- Has enabled me to have a positive impact on people within and outside Toastmasters
- Has helped me improve my speaking/leadership at my BNI (Business Network International) Referral chapter
Why do I stay?
I stay because of the following 4 reasons:
- Continuing professional development: I can always improve
- Paying it forward: I can help mentor those who are earlier on their journey
- Relationships: I have made a lot of good friends in Toastmasters
- Entertainment: We always have fun at our meetings
I would absolutely recommend joining Toastmasters International, even if you are only looking to improve your general confidence. In doing that, it will open the door to improving you and your performance in a number of ways.
Like everything worthwhile in life it requires discipline, commitment, being open to learning, being prepared to step outside your Comfort Zone and into your Growth Zone, and you can do this whilst having fun!
Here’s to your Toastmasters Journey!
Written by David Johnson
8 April 2023
For more information on Toastmasters International: http://www.toastmasters.org/
Music To My Ears!
The idea for this post came from a post I did on my Facebook Newsfeed some time ago…. I cannot play a note of music but I so love listening to it.
I thought I would expand on my choices on this blog. The following are in no particular order.
THE BEATLES: I was born in 1963 so I was only 7 years old when The Beatles broke up. I have a Sister, Cheryl who is 10 years older than I and Cheryl was 11 years of age when they toured Australia. As you can imagine, Beatles records were played all the time and my young ears heard them ‘all the time’ and I loved their sound and still do to today. The melodies, the voices, the Chuck Berry inspired music still strikes a chord with me.
LEE KERNAGHAN: Lee is one of Australia’s best known Country Music artists and I first started to listen in 1992 when he released “The Outback Club.” Some 17 albums later Im still enjoying his music immensely. I’ve seen him in concert once. I love putting his music when out driving, particularly as we are ‘heading on down the road…
LAMBCHOP: This is a band that I stumbled upon by accident. I was attending a ‘Photo Discussion Group’ session at a friend’s house and there was this music that I had never heard before playing in the background. My friend described them to me as, ‘Lounge Jazz.’ The next day (in the early 2,000’s) I went out and bought the album. I now have 6 albums and they are are favourite that I play when sketching and painting.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & (THE E-STREET BAND): My Brother, Larry was an early fan back in the early to mid 1970’s, having purchased his first three albums. At the age of 12 I heard the Born To Run album and I was hooked. We were thrilled to see him in concert in 1985 (4 1/4 hour concert including 6 encores). I saw him again in 2013 and 2014. I have 20 of his albums and never tire of listening to his music.
AMY GRANT: Back in the early 1980’s I started working in the Sydney CBD and it was a fascinating place to explore and discover things. One lunchtime I remember coming across a Christian bookshop which sold music. LP’s and Cassette Tapes still ruled back then and as I flipped through the Tapes I came across, ‘Amy Grant.’ I hadn’t heard of her before and a discussion ensued with the salesperson who very kindly played part of the Tape for me on a Cassette Deck (boy, am I showing my age)! Out of the Deck came one of the sweetest voices I had heard in a long time. The album was, ‘Amy Grant – The Collection.’ Years later I purchased it on CD. I have purchased more of Amy Grant’s albums since and still find her voice quiet calming.
ELVIS PRESLEY: My Brother, Larry was a big influence here. Four years older than me, he was ‘right into Elvis’ and so (similar to The Beatles), in my younger years, Elvis records were played a lot. I particularly love the period between 1954 and 1961, and 1968 to 1977. The ‘Sun Sessions’ are Golden , as is the period up until 1960. Another artist I never tire of hearing.
BONNIE RAITT: I came across Bonnie Raitt in the late 1980’s and was introduced via the ‘Nick Of Time’ album. I read later that Bruce Springsteen had ‘opened’ for her back in 1971. Her style of R & B really appeals to me and if you get a chance, check out her duet with John Lee Hooker on ‘I’m In The Mood’ on YouTube. Brilliant!
TOMMY EMMANUEL: The Australian Guitar maestro! I first heard his music in 1990 via his debut album, ‘Dare To Be Different.’ Tommy Emmanuel does not sing and doesn’t really need to as the magic he does on his guitar stands on its own. A favourite of mine when I sketch or paint, or am writing Poetry, his music can be calming and also inspirational.
STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN: Introduced to his music in the mid 1980’s I have been a fan ever since. His music captures me and his energy and fluent guitar playing, especially in the instrumentals are Gold. Sadly, gone from this Earth too early.
STATUS QUO: Again, my Brother had a bit of influence here as he was already a fan with one of their albums, ‘Piledriver.’ I purchased ‘On The Level’ and I was sold. Their heads-up-all-in-boogie sound has always made me feel great and if I’m feeling a bit down, it raises my mood.
What Bands/Singers can you not do without in your life, and why?
Written by David Johnson
2 December 2021
Stepping-Stones… A Journey to DTM and Beyond!
Last week it was exciting to have achieved the highest Education and Leadership level in Toastmasters International, that of DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster).
There is no set time to achieve DTM, You do it at your own pace and whilst some Toastmasters are members of multiple clubs, in my 12 1/4 years in Toastmasters, I’ve been in one club (at a time), mainly.
So, what does that mean to a non-Toastmaster, i.e. what do you need to do to achieve it?
I have listed the requirements below that were needed to complete DTM (in the Traditional program):
10 speeches (mainly 5-7 minutes in length).
10 Projects (containing multiple roles ranging from meeting roles to serving on a club executive committee).
10 Advanced module speeches (mainly 5-7 mins but up to 40 mins). There were 15 Advanced manuals to choose from; plus 2 x 15 minute Educational presentations.
Served at least 6 months as a Club Officer; participate in preparation of a Club Success Plan; attend Officer training; conduct 2 x15 minute Educational presentations.
10 Advanced module speeches & 2 x15 minute Educational presentations.
10 Advanced module speeches & 1 x 15 minute Educational presentation or lead a Youth Leadership (6 weeks long) Program & mentored a member for their first 3 speech projects.
Serve a 12 month term as a District Leader, Serve successfully as a Club Coach, Club Sponsor or Club Mentor & complete a High Performance Leadership program.
Along the way you finish up doing more as its fun and you want to learn more and obtain more experience etc:
- I led 3 Youth Leadership courses and participated in several more.
- Participated (as a leader) in Speechcraft courses (for adults)
- Have served as a club officer 6 times including being President of two different clubs.
- Together with Rhys Tague (co-Club Coach) we have successfully built a new Toastmasters Club in the Macarthur Region and the club has achieved 10/10 in the Distinguished Club Program (achieving all Administration, Education and Membership goals) in it’s first year.
Toastmasters has been in ’transition-mode’ for the past few years and the Traditional Program stops at Midnight on 30 June 2020. The new Pathways Education Program has been in for a few years now and offers even more opportunities for learning and development in terms of communication and leadership.
I’m currently about to start Level 3 (out of 5) of the one of the 11 Paths called ‘Presentation Mastery.’
Being a committed member of Toastmasters has helped me have greater confidence (inward & outward) and I have learnt so much. There is still much more to learn though.
Why do I stay in Toastmasters?
- Continuing professional development
- A chance to pay it forward/give back to other members
- I’ve made many friends
I’ve included a link to the Pathways Education program should you wish to investigate it more. https://www.toastmasters.org/pathways-overview
If you would like to find a club near you that you can visit, there is a ‘Find A Club’ link on the same page.
Where to from here? I see the achievement of DTM as another stepping-stone to further professional development.
The journey is far from over!
It Was Always Going To Be
The Toastmaster’s Journey
Listening With The Mind
I was a ‘born introvert.’ At school I would not volunteer to ‘read things out in class’, at parties (even as an adult) I would only talk to people I knew, and at meetings at work I would have an idea though I would be too nervous to speak in front of others.
What led me to Toastmasters?
It was a chance meeting with a former work-friend, Wendy White in 2008 who was then President of a Toastmasters Club. (Wendy is currently District Director of District 70 in Australia).
I saw the changes in her (from when I knew her previously) and suspected that Toastmasters had something to do with this.
So what is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. It has 313,000 members around the world in 14,650 clubs in 126 countries.
Members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending the meetings on a regular basis, either weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on the individual Club and applying themselves through the Educational program.
I joined Toastmasters in March 2008 for the following reasons:
1. To gain a greater general confidence
2. To improve my photographic judging evaluations at Camera Clubs
3. To overcome nerves
Joining and putting myself well and truly into the programme has been a life-changing experience because it has helped me in 18 different ways/areas of my life i.e.
It has helped me in the following ways:
– gain greater general confidence
– am able to control my nerves prior to and during photographic judging/speeches
– am able to take photos in front of others without getting nervous
– am now able to walk up to strangers and introduce myself
– has improved my networking/business capabilities
– have no fear of speaking in public
– have no fear of taking on leadership roles
– has made me a better leader
– it has made me a better listener
– to evaluate better
– I can now ‘think on my feet’ better (impromptu speaking)
– improved my performance at job interviews
– has enable me to write & deliver coherent speeches
– has enabled me to win speech contests (who would have ever thought)!?
– has improved my writing capabilities to the point that I am now in the process of writing a book
– has given me the confidence to start writing poems (133 at last count)
– has opened up ‘outside of Toastmasters’ speaking opportunities including me being able to accept an MC role at a wedding & being able to speak at community clubs
– has enabled me to have a positive impact on people within and outside Toastmasters
As with life in general, the learning never stops! In all of the above areas there are still improvements to be made but when I look back I am thankful I had the courage to walk through the door of a Toastmasters Club.
Members, both experienced and new will be there to support you and cheer you on!
Whether you are an employee or are in business for yourself, consider visiting/joining a Toastmasters Club.
It will change your life for the better!
Click on http://www.toastmasters.org to find out more and ‘Find A Club’ in your area.
To your Success!!!