Two years ago I walked into my first Toastmasters meeting. It was in a classroom full of strangers that seemed to like each other, nothing interesting, nothing new, where was the magic. A gentleman stood up and with what looked like that thing the judges use on tv, he banged on the table twice. And then it happened.
For the next 2 hours I was taken into a world I didn’t know existed, everyone seemed to have confidence, everyone seemed to be enthusiastic and passionate about their roles, they knew what they were doing, like clockwork I sat and clapped my hands in acknowledgement and appreciation, I laughed at the humour in some speeches and I remember there was a moment I almost felt like something had got into my eye.
The lady invited the guests to try out a speech, two minutes she said, after an awkward silence I was the braver of the guests, she handed me a small paper and invited me to speak on it for two minutes, I remember the topic, one word, one word that started my rollercoaster ride. The word was SIMPLICITY.
A few months later, I was standing amongst the top 10 best speakers in South Africa at the District 74 Conference, the room as full of people, but these were no ordinary strangers! I like them! These were Toastmasters, individuals going for what I was also after, Personal Development.
If you asked me then how I got there, I wouldn’t have the right words to explain, but now looking back I can tell you this; I showed up. This is what it takes to begin the journey of being a Toastmaster.
I tell my mentees this; the passion for your personal development is the key to how far your Toastmasters’ journey will take you. You might not know it when you begin but with every step it will make sense. After one month into my journey I had a conversation with my brother about competing in the speech contest the following year, he asked me one question “If not YOU, then WHO? If not NOW, then WHEN?” In that moment my path became much clear, in that moment I knew.
I didn’t win the District Contest that day but the 2 months experience was phenomenal. I had embraced Toastmasters so much that in two months I had completed my Competent Communication Manual.
Two months of reciting speeches in the shower, in the car, in the taxi, on rooftops. If my 3 year old niece could count at the time, she would tell you how many times she had been my audience. I remember walking 11kms soon after losing my wallet to attend the nearest Toastmasters meeting. On my way there I recited my speech, added more flavor in the body and decided on my conclusion. I have always wondered why people talk to themselves in public, NOW I KNOW!! If it was a disease I didn’t want the cure, if it was an addiction then I wanted more, the journey thus far has been amazing.
We all have different strengths and weaknesses, different superpowers and if there is anything that I have learnt in the last two years and continue to share with my mentees, it is that Toastmasters is where everything becomes clearer. The more you put in, the more you get out.
My name is Kgobero Kehuparetse, you can call me cage with K (Kage), I am a proud Toastmaster.
Area L1 Director Botswana