Article Category: Communication Skills

Toastmasters Testimonials: 85 Years of Better Speakers


Toastmasters 85th Anniversary

To mark the 85th anniversary of the world’s leading organization devoted to communications, we recently asked Six Minutes readers to share their stories of growth through Toastmasters.

Question: How has Toastmasters made a difference in your life?

We received a flood of testimonials, and are pleased to share several of them below.

Bryan Senter:

I had expectations when I came into Toastmasters. I expected to become a better speaker and a better overall communicator. I even bought into the opportunities to improve my leadership skills. But what caught me by surprise was the personal growth.

Peggy Machol-Bassett:

What a wonderful experience that first meeting was […] speech evaluations with substance and kindness!

I used to teach my speech classes just as I was taught in college:  assign a list of speeches to be completed by semester’s end, have students work independently and present speeches, and the teacher (me) announces to the entire class how each student failed to achieve the objectives. Needless to say, after the first speech or two, students began refusing to speak!

I heard of Toastmasters and found my club, JSC Toastmasters #3116. What a wonderful experience that first meeting was — being sincerely welcomed by the members when I arrived, tantalizing Table Topics, speech evaluations with substance and kindness! I was hooked.

My students immediately noticed the change in class. Three years later, I’m working towards my AC Silver and display my speech evaluations for my students to read. There’s no way to know what my fellow speech students might have been able to achieve had our instructor used Toastmasters methods.

Frank Andrassy:

I joined Toastmasters because my company had cancelled all their personal skills development training.

My life has changed and I have met exciting, outgoing, approachable, caring, giving, helping, and (most of all) people that support, help and drive you to be the best.

I joined Toastmasters because my company had cancelled all their personal skills development training. I was just planning to get my CC and stop. I decided to get my CL and attended officer training. My trainer hooked me — I wanted to speak like him. On the way home, I developed a speech which I used to enter the Humorous Speech Contest. I won my club contest and my Area contest, but lost in the Division. I was hooked. I later competed in the International speech contest and did the same. It seems my speeches were lengthy and growing longer. I eventually became my club’s President and now I am an Area Governor. My goal and plan is to get my DTM in June 2010.

How has Toastmaster helped me? Contacts, networking, beating shyness and being introverted, support, being believed in, and most of all friendship. My plan was to develop a blog (needed a topic) I also wanted to get into Professional speaking and found out I needed a strength or area. Toastmasters has made me looked deeply at myself and realize that who I was and what I believed in was not only Ok but needed to be shared with others. I started giving speeches on the loss of civility in America, Personal Freedom and how to get controlled back in your life, overcoming Apathy, finding meaning and direction in your life, etc. Toastmasters and the people, friends, contacts that I have developed have supported, driven, encouraged, guided me to become a better speaker, speech writer and speak from the heart so others can hear, change and become a better person and help make America great again.

Joanne Soong:

Toastmasters helped me eliminate my crippling fear of speaking which prevented me from pitching my small business plan to investors. Now, I speak without fear, and my small business is thriving!

Kevin Wortman:

I joined Toastmasters 16 years ago to attack, head on, a profound fear of public speaking. I reached a point, in my life and career, where the inability to communicate effectively was impacting everything I did.

I joined TM 16 years ago to attack, head on, a profound fear of public speaking. I reached a point, in my life and career, where the inability to communicate effectively was impacting everything I did. I decided that my only alternative was to succeed. To tell you that TM changed my life would hardly do the experience justice. Today, I have my Able Communicator Gold designation and I’m currently working in the Competent Leader program. I speak in public every chance I get, and I teach public speaking skills in TM clubs, learning institutes, and high schools. I have won District level speaking competitions and have spoken to large and small audiences alike. Now, I am sought out for communication skills and public speaking mentoring.

My communication skills have vaulted my career to the executive level in a Fortune 100 company. […] Toastmasters gives you a skill that 95% of professionals don’t have. That’s a differentiator!

My communication skills have vaulted my career to the executive level in a Fortune 100 company. Communication is a necessary leadership skill and the TM program teaches the participant to think on their feet through Table Topics with precision and key messaging while manual speeches hone individual skills for both speech mechanics and content. Personal development through the TM program requires commitment and a willingness to be “teachable.” However, the investment is small in comparison to the infinite return achieved through strong public speaking skills. I am convinced through years of speech evaluation, observation and participation that strong public speaking skills are absent in 95% of professionals thereby evidencing the invaluable nature of the TM program. To this end, TM gives you a skill that 95% of professionals don’t have. That’s a differentiator!

TM has afforded me the opportunity to meet great people from a broad range of professions and backgrounds. There is always a willingness to help participants succeed because the success of every individual is the success of the TM club and mission. I am well coached and well trained in public speaking because other Toastmasters took the time and interest in my personal development. I can’t give back enough to repay the success it has brought me both personally and professionally, but I keep trying. There are friendships that I have developed which now span years of TM participation. People make the program and passion makes the people.

The hardest part is taking the first step from the ‘burning platform’ of fear […]

I hope, in a small way, I’ve captured the essence, opportunity and challenge of public speaking through the expressions and participation in the TM experience. I consider myself a public speaking work-in-process forever and truly believe in the benefit of the TM program and larger organization. The hardest part is taking the first step from the “burning platform” of fear, nevertheless, it‘s a step you’ll remember forever and opportunity for personal development that parallels the same.

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Comments icon3 Comments

  1. Pam Ellis says:

    This is a great response…We are building a club website and I wonder if anyone would mind if we used these on our site.

    thanks,

    Pam Ellis
    EXtreem Toastmasters
    Fremont, CA

  2. Jack Ale says:

    I love the toastmasters because not only do the excel at what they do, but they teach so many people to be better public speakers. Heck, there are high-paid celebrity speakers who could benefit from the toastmasters!

  3. Hey,

    I have just discovered the concept of toastmasters through a book of Jack Canfield. I am really curious about it. What are your experiences about what you can learn at toastmasters

    best regards,

    Maarten

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