Tawanda Mubvumbi CA(SA) shares how his Toastmaster journey has turned him from a shy public speaker to someone who will now confidently step up to the stage to have his say at any given opportunity.
Roscoe Drummond once said: ‘The mind is a wonderful thing. It starts working the minute you are born and never stops until you get up to speak in public.’
My mind was exactly like what Roscoe Drummond said. I was always hesitant to give presentations or speak in public. I also desired to improve my leadership skills. This is the reason why my wife and I decided to attend Toastmasters’ clubs close to where we stay. After visiting a few times, I joined Kempton Park Toastmasters’ club in April 2016. My first speech was about myself. It was so nerve-wracking that I could scarcely get myself to prepare for the speech. However, my speech was well received, and I got valuable feedback on what I did well and how my speech could be better. I found that Toastmasters is a safe, supportive environment in which one learns how to deliver prepared and impromptu speeches.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my Toastmasters’ journey and below are some of the benefits that I have gained:
Building self-confidence and self-awareness Due to the increased use of technology and social media, more and more people are finding challenges with human interaction and prefer communicating with others via their smartphones or on email. Toastmasters helps assist people in becoming more sociable and able to speak to others in one-on-one or group settings.
Improved public speaking skills At club meetings, I have been able to deliver prepared speeches on subjects that are of interest to me. The programme is self-paced, so I only deliver a prepared speech when I am ready to do so. In addition, I have learnt to give speeches without preparation on various topics through practice gained at club meetings during the impromptu speaking session of each meeting.
Gain a competitive advantage in the workplace In my professional career, I have worked for a consulting firm where I had to give PowerPoint presentations to the client and chair meetings. The skills I gained from Toastmasters have helped me to be more comfortable in these workplace interactions.
Give good evaluations to subordinates All prepared speeches at clubs are evaluated by another Toastmasters’ member. The organisation teaches how to give constructive feedback by giving structured methods of giving feedback which encourage a speaker to come back to deliver more speeches. This evaluation technique can be easily adopted in the workplace when reviewing the performance of your staff.
Write speeches and present them in a group setting I have learnt how to structure speeches as well as how to use body language and vocal variety to deliver effective informational, persuasive and inspirational speeches.
Make new friends I have made a lot of new friends through Toastmasters. If you are a member of one club, you can visit other Toastmasters clubs throughout the world. I have attended club meetings in Mbabane (Eswatini), Maputo (Mozambique), Harare (Zimbabwe) and several clubs throughout Gauteng.
Organising events I have been involved in organising speech contests at various levels in Toastmasters. Each of the countries in Southern Africa where Toastmasters has a presence has annual speech contests. This all culminates in a district international prepared speech, evaluations, and table topics contest. The winner of the International Prepared Speech represents District 74 (Southern Africa) in the regional semi-finals of the Annual World Championship of Public Speaking.
In the future, I would like to give back to my community the skills that I have learned from Toastmasters. I plan to participate in speechwriting courses at schools and companies. These are called Youth Leadership Programmes for schools and Speechcrafts for corporates.
Being a part of Toastmasters International has transformed my life. I have learnt a lot and got to know people from diverse backgrounds.
AUTHOR | Tawanda Mubvumbi CA(SA)