I can tackle anything photo

I joined Toastmasters because I was faced with presenting at a conference on compassion fatigue and depression in veterinary medicine. I was asked to tell my own story, and I feared that I would not be able to do so without excessive, distracting emotional outbursts.

Toastmasters gave me the courage to stand up and speak my own truth, to celebrate my individuality in a public forum, and to own emotion as a way to connect with my audience. I learned that audiences want to see the emotion and understand what I’ve been through. Hiding that wasn’t necessary.

This practice in public speaking has spilled over into other areas of my life as well. I’m calmer at cello recitals (I’m an adult student of the instrument); I can connect more easily with clients because I’ve started sharing my own experiences as a pet owner more freely; I can speak on any topic at a moment’s notice without struggling to come up with things to say.

The Toastmasters program is crafted so smoothly that I learned all these skills without really being aware I was learning them, one step at a time, one prepared speech or Table Topic at a time. At each step, I was encouraged by the group and given constructive feedback on how to improve, so that the next time I came back to speak, I really was better.

I’ve developed more belief in my ability to tackle new things, and started volunteering to do things that I don’t necessarily already know how to do. I was taught as a child that failure meant I was a failure. I now know that “failure” means I’m learning, and I will improve with each attempt!

By George Sutton Toastmasters Member: Teresa Seggerman