My Toastmasters journey begins on a particular evening in 2015 as I made my way to the lecture hall to study in my first year at university. As I passed one of the notice boards just near the lecture hall I was about to enter, a poster caught my attention; the words public speaking immediately jumped at me and I settled in my heart I’d be in the next meeting they were going to have.
I have come to learn now that beyond just communication skills Toastmasters International provides more than a means and platform for one to be an eloquent and world class speaker but also a competent leader.
At that time I couldn’t care less about that aspect, my main focus was public speaking. I always had passion for that and desperately sought how I could become better at it.
My first experience in a meeting opens almost like a scene right out of a movie.
The club I attended was the one at my Institution (ZCAS Toastmasters). That particular meeting was held on February 10th 2015 and was themed “Valentine’s”. The meeting met all of my expectations and as table topics came along, those expectations were about to be surpassed. My card number was called, I was asked to stand in front of the entire room, my table topic was, “Imagine you had one last opportunity to profess your love to the girl of your dreams what would you say”. The table topics master decided then to make it more interesting and asked a young lady who had fair dark skin, a beautiful warm smile and the most enchanting eyes to come to the front and stand in as (you guessed it) the girl of my dreams. Yikes! As I stared into her eyes, I could see she was equally shy about this as I was. I begun to recount the innumerable number of poems I’d previously written to an imaginary girlfriend I was confident I was going to have at some point in my university life. What was meant to be a 2 minute speech, lasted just over a minute but I managed to get her to smile from ear to ear and the audience cheered and clapped in approval.
There was no question about it, I joined that club immediately. ZCAS Toastmasters was composed largely of undergraduates whose energy,skill and honesty was a combination I found very few others had. In my second year I served as Vice President of Education a leadership position I didn’t know could open and really put to test the practicability of my leadership over the years. In my third year on campus I stepped away from Toastmasters due to factors that I couldn’t control. In my last year as an undergraduate I rejoined fully paid up and ready to progress. I was elected as Club president and still serving in that capacity. I made history with my team, as of now, we are on course to being President Distinguished by April.
In my journey so far, I have completed my competent communicator manual, competent leader manual and Pathways Level 1 of Innovative Planning, earning the prestigious Triple Crown award. The leadership skills I’ve picked up are invaluable; the community I am now surrounded with is one of a kind.
However I find some of the greatest joys this journey has brought me so far is being able to witness ordinary everyday people, realise they have always had a voice within them to speak and express themselves in ways they thought unimaginable.
Furthermore helping people realise that at whatever level one may be we are all leaders and can harness and apply the skills we learn today in every single day of our lives.
Mwape Moses Mwelwa
ZCAS Toastmasters club Zambia