Before you get any funny ideas let’s get to know what it exactly is!
What is Toastmasters?
From a humble beginning in 1924 at the YMCA in Santa Ana, California, Toastmasters International has grown to become a world leader in helping people become more competent and comfortable in front of an audience. The nonprofit organization now has nearly 235,000 members in 12,036 clubs in 106 countries, offering a proven – and enjoyable! – way to practice and hone communication and leadership skills.
Most Toastmasters meetings are comprised of approximately 20 people who meet weekly for an hour or two. Participants practice and learn skills by filling a meeting role, ranging from giving a prepared speech or an impromptu one to serving as timer, evaluator or grammarian.
There is no instructor; instead, each speech and meeting is critiqued by a member in a positive manner, focusing on what was done right and what could be improved.
Good communicators tend to be good leaders. (http://www.toastmasters.org/)
I have been with Toastmasters since 2004 and it has been a fantastic time. I found out about Toastmasters from a friend of mine, Zaheer who attended one in Saudi Arabia. I immediately searched for it, found out what it was and attended a meeting near my house in Sharjah.
I didn’t know what to expect, so I just went ahead and played along. It was a group of roughly 15-20 like minded people gathered for a sole reason. To develop their personal speaking and leadership skills by helping each other.
The mission of a Toastmasters Club is as follows:
The mission of a Toastmasters club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.
There were engineers, accountants, businessmen, students and even housewifes. These people wanted to develop their speaking skills and to develop self confidence. Self confidence is something most of us lack in. This is mainly due to fear. Fear of what people think of us, how we are performing, fear of the unknown and a whole lot of fears. We now live in a world where people see us by the way we communicate. Communication plays a major role in our homes as well as the work place.
I went that day expecting it to be just another useless meeting trying to lure people into something. This was a club called Lagoon Toastmasters Club (http://lagoontoastmasters.com/). This club is based in Sharjah, UAE. Everyone I met there were very friendly and were constantly encouraging one another. Every small effort was appreciated by all. Speaking in front of many people is not a joke. Some literally wet their pants! I was asked to introduce myself in front of all and I did it with a little difficulty. A lot of things crossed my mind – what will they say, think, am I talking nonsense etc. I don’t know what I said. But in the end, everyone just clapped and made me feel that I had achieved something great. One thing led to another and in the end I ended up joining the club as a member. There are so many experiences which have had an effect on me after I became a regular.
The best way is for you to find out yourself. So go to a club near you and make use of this wonderful organization to help yourself to overcome fear and develop self confidence.
To find the nearest club in your area please click this link – http://www.toastmasters.org/find/