Fear! Anxiety! Almost every day, I longed for the moment the earth could open up and swallow me! Sweaty hands and forehead from just looking at people. That used to be my story before
I joined Eloquent Toastmasters. Public speaking was THE gap in my competency set, my weakness, despite having spent four good years studying communications. Who can believe that a communications major graduate could have such gaps? Well, I did!
In September 2018, I made the bold decision to change jobs and challenge myself to reach greater heights. This involved moving to a new town, to new people and a new environment hence, a greater challenge, to fit in.
I needed to move out of my comfort zone. I spent the first two months of my stay in my new town, Blantyre, not knowing where to go, who to interact with; my confidence levels deteriorated even more. I was more confident and vocal on social media, where I could spend more time interacting with people. Not that social media is bad, but it provided no space to sharpen my public speaking skills.
One cold Friday, bored, while browsing through Facebook, I stumbled upon Eloquent Toastmasters. I had once attended a Toastmasters meeting in Lilongwe and noted how confident the team was. I suddenly made the bold decision to attend my first meeting in Blantyre. I fired off a message to the ex-Vice President Education, Robert, who replied with details of the venue and the meeting days. I almost forgot to attend my first meeting but the VPE kept reminding me day after day, after day until the day of the meeting arrived. And so I attended my first meeting at Eloquent and I don’t regret my decision.
I was so impressed with the energy in the presentations, the welcoming environment, and Yes! I was so shocked to be told that it was my turn to do a Table Topic. Table Topics? Well, I nervously tried to mumble despite my shyness.
In those tense moments, I realised that this was the ideal platform for me to sharpen my public speaking skills. I was encouraged to practise more, to drive myself to improve and to learn from my slips and grow. I realised then I had found a home, a family, in Eloquent Toastmasters.
Going back home, my thoughts were on the night I visited the club. A fortnight was too long to wait! The images of confidence, the energy, the skills members portrayed that night lingered in my mind. I decided to join the club immediately. What was there to wait for?
I contacted the VPE, paid my subscription, and here I am months later, as confident, as bold as the rest! From presenting my ice breaker speech to my other presentations, to being elected VPPR, Toastmasters is teaching me to be a leader! My club challenges me to be better and, to move out of my comfort zone! Eloquent is home!