Not too long ago, in January 2018, I joined Toastmasters to improve my communication skills, because as a new teacher I would deliver the lesson and half of the learners would pay attention and the other half not. This brought me to Toastmasters to improve my speaking skills.
My first ice breaker was delivered two months after enrolling on the legacy program. It was awesome to deliver the speech and get immediate feedback and a few points on how to improve after the speech. Each month I delivered a speech for the next two months. During that time I learned to become more relaxed in front of the group. I was able to learn from the mistakes I made, and how to avoid or improve them.
As a shy self-contained and withdrawn person Toastmasters has given me the opportunity to open up to people and connect with so many people within Toastmasters. This was definitely the case when I attended my first Leadership Training in July as Secretary of our club. Being Secretary entailed that I keep record of the clubs meetings, membership registration forms and other club related documents.
The next few months I was kept busy by teaching college students. My assigned mentor had not made contact with me. It was in October 2018 that I decided, I would ask one of the more senior members if he would be able to assist me with reaching my goals. He agreed and one evening we met and discussed the path ahead. We decided to leave the Legacy program and to start actively pursuing Pathways. Thanks to him, within the next two months I finished the first path of Effective Coaching and met my first goal.
What I learnt as a mentee is to ask. Ask for guidance or input from the other members. More than likely, they will give you good comments, and are more than willing to guide you. You have to be open to receive feedback and consider new ideas and suggestions. Listen to what the evaluator recommends and the other people who give feedback. One of the growth areas was vocal projection. You can image that if you are not audible that people will battle to hear clearly what you say, never mind understand what you are saying. Today I can say that it did improve.
I am accountable for my personal growth. As a member of my club I have a responsibility to prepare and practice my speeches and projects. My mentor can support me in that growth. But in the end I have to sit down and prepare for the speeches, work through the material supplied, and commit to delivering the speeches and projects.
I have grown tremendously during the last few months and know that there is still room for improvement. I believe through my mentor and the support and feedback from other members of Toastmasters, I am able to grow. Through learning, receiving feedback and developing yourself Toastmasters will open up opportunities for you to become a better you.
Thank you to all the mentors out there and Toastmasters who enrich people’s lives daily.
Sigrid van der Walt
Central Centurion Toastmasters Club