The Unintended Consequence

What first brought you to Toastmasters? I joke that I didn’t join to become a better speaker – I was running away from my kids! I had no idea that this simple decision to attend a meeting at Cape Town Toastmasters would have such an impact on my life.

I was lucky – Cape Town Toastmasters is a strong club with a proud tradition. It was immediately evident to me that I could learn there. I wanted to become as articulate and professional as the members I saw in action that evening. Since then, I have raised my hand again and again to get involved – first at club level and then at district level and beyond. I learned that opportunity often comes your way after you have raised your hand to make a difference. You learn new skills with every role you take on. In the process, you develop leadership skills that can be used on your life outside of Toastmasters.

The unintended consequence of attending my first meeting is that I now run a business as a professional speech coach, (a few years ago I had no idea such a thing existed!). I have published two books on public speaking and regularly deliver training to corporates. I love what I do! None of this would have happened if I hadn’t joined Toastmasters.

After eleven years as a member, I still learn new skills at Cape Town Toastmasters. I have the privilege of watching others grow in confidence as they participate. My leadership journey has taken me to 21 different countries! I have had the privilege of speaking and training district leaders and members across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. I have learned to persuade and to inspire. My conflict resolutions skills have been developed as well as the ability to work with diverse teams of people. These are invaluable skills I use with clients. The real-world benefit of the skills we learn at Toastmasters cannot be underestimated.

In August I attended the International Convention in Denver, USA. I ran for election as your International Director for Region 11 (Africa and the Middle East). This journey involved many hours of preparation – thinking about the issues that we face as an organisation and interviewing current and past leaders. At convention, approximately 115 teams of leaders from all around the globe interviewed me. I am delighted to have been elected for a two-year term. Together with the other members of the board, we will develop strategy and policy to continue growing and serving our members across the world.

My suggestion is that you raise your hand and volunteer to help your club be successful. Then put up your hand to support our wonderful district. There are so many opportunities to learn, to give and to grow. Who knows what unintended consequences will come your way! You have everything to gain and nothing to lose!

Aletta Rochat

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