When I joined NUS Toastmasters Club a year ago, I expected to improve my public speaking and leadership skills. Looking back over the past year, I have not only become a better speaker, listener and leader but also had an amazing experience beyond my expectations.
Even though the chapter meetings are held on Tuesday nights after a long day’s work, I am instantly re-energized by the energy and the enthusiasm in the room. It never fails to amaze me how every meeting is run in a systematic and orderly manner so that the members and guests can make fruitful use of the time during the meeting. I think it’s a fantastic idea to start the meeting with table topics which is both the most fun and scary segment. It succeeds in breaking the ice and setting up the stage for the rest of the meeting, with new members and guests often volunteering (more like being volunteered) to be the victims only to find out – ‘Hey it isn’t so bad after all’.
The passion with which the members deliver their prepared speeches motivates me to do better every time and put more effort into my own speeches. The evaluations segment is my favorite part of the meeting, I have realized that the best way to complement your own speech preparation is to evaluate more often and listen to more evaluations. The evaluations have helped me identify my traits as a speaker ( the good and the bad ), many of which even I was unaware of. I cannot stress enough the importance of taking on appointment roles such as TME (Toastmaster of the evening), SAA (Seargent at Arms), Timer, Ah Counter and many more, each of which helps you hone a unique set of skills that you can readily apply in other aspects of your life.
For me, the real benefits have come from being involved with the club beyond the regular chapter meetings. Seeing your fellow toasties give their very best at the speech contests is both inspiring and makes you feel proud at the same time. Being involved in bench-marketing and facilitating workshops pushed me out of my comfort zone and do something I have really wanted to do – share my Toastmasters experience with others and convince them to try it for themselves. It is great fun to convey to people that we are not a cooking club. Thanks to the very active PR committee, I was also able to visit a number of other clubs in Singapore and experience different club cultures (NUS TM tops them all obviously!!). The camaraderie and support among the NUS TM members is no joke and it creates a conducive environment for all the members to learn and grow together while enjoying every moment of it.
In NUS TM, there is a genuine and sincere effort to bring value to the audience (who chose to spend their time listening to you) and along the way, this attitude has triggered something unexpected in me. As I brainstorm for my next speech content, I tend to find a little more about myself and what kind of message I want to deliver to the audience. Through NUS TM, I am slowly finding my voice and learning how to own it. NUS TM is a great failsafe platform to be unapologetically you and try new things you have always wanted to, but never took the first step because you were afraid of failing or people judging you. I am grateful to all the members and especially to the EXCO for making my first year at NUS TM into something I will cherish for life. Looking forward to many such years, I will sign off with an evaluation of my NUS TM experience in true Toastmasters spirit – what was good, what could have been better and what was the best.
The good – A multitude of opportunities to improve any personal development skill you can think of.
The could have been better – Food…maybe.
The best – Amazingly awesome club atmosphere.
13th Sept, 2015