Staring at the blank window of my laptop, thinking of how I will turn my waiting time into a productive one, I googled “presentation tips.”
“I want to be able to present my audit findings in an effective manner,” I whispered as I clicked on the link to the article. After reading through three articles, Toastmasters was mentioned.
“What was that? Is that about speaking, bread toasting, or wine toasting?”
My eager fingers danced across the keyboard, pressed enter, and voila: I found the Toastmasters website (www.toastmasters.org). Through its ‘Find a Club’ function, I found a club near my place that meets on a Saturday at 6pm. “This is a perfect fit to my schedule and location.”
I visited IAME & Associates Toastmasters Club. I was surprised at how friendly and accommodating they were. They greeted me with warm handshakes. (I was hoping there were fruit shakes, too! But none was served. Oh good snacks, they have!)
The meeting (a different kind of meeting) came with moving speeches, lots of laughter, and friendly and constructive evaluation. On that same night, I also delivered my first impromptu speech (called Table Topics) in Toastmasters. Boy, I was terrified but thrilled. How’s that possible? I don’t know. But I liked what I experienced.
It felt home that I had no choice but to join.
I became a Toastmaster member in 2010, month of June.
Weeks after, I excitedly (I meant, nervously) delivered my Ice Breaker speech. Thanks to the very heart-warming and helpful evaluator assigned to me. His words that night, affirmed by the VPEducation and the other members of the club, pushed me to run forward in delivering my speech projects. He started the mighty throng of evaluators that came my path whose words touched my heart and stirred my young mind to continue growing my voice, my passion, my skills in communication and leadership.
From doing all the projects in the Competent Communication manual to the advanced manuals, from Sergeant-at-Arms role to President to VP Public Relations to Area Governor positions — credit them to the persistent prodding of my mentor. As an obedient soldier, I said my yes’es to these communication and leadership projects. Oh yes, including speech contests. From winning them to learning more of what’s in store in them! Man, there was a lot I didn’t know.
Shifts in my career path brought me back home to the mountains of Benguet and to now my home club in Baguio – Pines City Toastmasters Club. There I found another supportive and nurturing environment.
I continued running my marathon of speeches, evaluations and leadership roles in Pines City Toastmasters Club… and in the other clubs in Baguio City: Baguio Funshine, Synergy, and Baguio Ecozone Toastmasters Clubs.
Here I found great Toastmaster fellows, speech champions, dynamic speakers, and dedicated learners (both young and not so young).
Toastmasters helped me to become a speaker, trainer and author.
Seven years have passed already. There a lot more stories I can share that this article cannot contain. These stories continue to be written as they continue to unfold…
As I get busy spreading the gift of Toastmasters, helping others become better communicators and leaders, serving people to become better versions of themselves, awards and certificates come. And today, the highest norm or educational award given to Toastmasters called the Distinguished Toastmaster is bestowed to yours truly, your friend – Chris.
I am delighted because behind this certificate or title is a journey of growth of developing myself, of helping others, of honing my voice, of inspiring others, of unwrapping my gift and being of service to other people.
Yes, after seven years, I am now a Distinguished Toastmaster but the learning and service has just begun. Inside and outside of Toastmasters. I will still stay to continue learning with Toastmasters but moving more outside of Toastmasters, outside the meeting rooms, out to the community!
I continue to spread this gift of Toastmasters. Join us in Toastmasters – WHERE LEADERS ARE MADE.
(Chris Dao-anis is now the VP Education of Pines City Toastmasters Club. For more info, visit www.pinescity.toastmastersclubs.org. If you are outside Baguio City, visit the international website at www.toastmasters.org. Chris is an author of three books to date. The latest one, Living Large in the Little Things, is available at Mt. Cloud Bookshop, Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, Baguio City. For talks and trainings, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.chrispoweracademy.com. You can also like his page at www.facebook.com/chrisdaoaniswriter.)