Toastmasters Mentoring Visibly and Invisibly

by Ramona Shimeall (BCBSKS Toastmasters 1483203)

I am a person who loves to get at a task and complete it. I’ve learned that the harder, seemingly impossible tasks become easier as you attack them, dive into them, and labor through the work. However, Toastmasters has taught me the value of progress that is slow and steady.

Believe me, I tried my normal “dive in and make it work” method of learning to present better, being prepared, and sharpening my vocabulary. I was enthusiastic and willing. However, it was not my enthusiasm   that carried me through my early journey with Toastmasters; it was all I learned from other Toastmasters that carried me through my early journey

My journey with Toastmasters began with a suggestion from my boss that it might be a good avenue for improving my work with outside customers. I knew of Toastmasters from my waitressing days in my twenties. I did not believe it was something I wanted to pursue. Then another coworker talked with me about it, and I decided to kick the wheels in July of 2019.

To say that Toastmasters was not what I expected is an understatement. I did not expect the small changes that I picked up from attending Toastmasters meetings. I went to meetings with open-minded eagerness, and I learned various speaking techniques by watching others.

After a couple months of attending, I joined the club. I learned I could have a mentor and signed up. I also attended my first contest, and I picked up on some of the protocols that were different for contests. I explored past contest winners. (I didn’t want to be in a contest, but I enjoyed everything I learned by watching accomplished speakers).

When the pandemic hit and many Toastmaster clubs met virtually, I went to other Toastmasters meetings such as A Taste of Success Toastmasters and the Leavenworth Club. The value I gained from watching other clubs operate, joke with one another, plan the meeting if I arrived early, and welcome guests mentored me in the larger Toastmasters community and cemented my joy in what Toastmasters clubs do for people. Returning to my own club, I sought opportunities to share my vision of what being a club means. I was new, and my experience with Toastmasters was limited.

Continuing to attend meetings and interacting with other members of my home club ignited a desire within me to bring new life to our club. It was not only me diving in and creating that environment; it was the team brainstorming together and individually bringing their best to the team. It was exciting to be part of a growing club during the pandemic.

I am not a spectacular public speaker yet, but I celebrate with my Toastmasters colleagues every step I take in becoming a better public speaker, a better club member, a person who is more adept at any meeting role. The future is open in many ways because of the Toastmasters who mentored me, whether they know it or not.

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