Our lives are filled with moments where we have to make a decision whether we continue doing what we do or take a step to change it. We often associate steps like these when we opt to sign for any advanced degree or even taking up a new job or entering a new relationship. When I joined two years ago I hadn’t imagined that joining Toastmasters would be just one of those decisions. 

I joined Toastmasters with the singular objective to improve my speaking skills by giving speeches. As I actively pursued this goal, I had the opportunity to become a club officer and took it up since it sounded like something new so I thought I could give it a try. Since then Toastmasters has become more than just speeches. A world of leadership opened up for me, which was really new for me and I began actively taking up various duties and responsibilities as a part of my role as a club officer.

As a club officer, I was setting up zoom meeting logistics during the last year and upskilling myself with virtual platforms. At this point, I was just doing it since I was curious about it, not really knowing how this would help me elsewhere in life. But then one time at work my team had to organise a virtual event and no one had in-depth knowledge of Zoom to help out. I volunteered for this role and helped out my team to organize the event successfully.

This was a moment of truth, a moment of realisation, that skills I was picking up at Toastmasters, did have an impact on my life outside it. This felt different and it was a new and joyous realisation. There have been other changes as well, as my approach to giving feedback has changed, I no longer just critiqued someone but also re-emphasized the points they have done well improving my relationships with co-workers, friends, and even family.

These changes are becoming more evident and also being noticed by my colleagues and people around me; they attribute it to my involvement in Toastmasters. My initial goal was getting better at public speaking which was fulfilled all thanks to the Pathways learning curriculum.  In addition, my leadership skills were getting polished as I took on various officer roles. That was really an energizing and motivating space to be in. This motivated me to learn and grow my impact circle from my own clubs to the whole area as an area director and, now, serving areas as a division director.

As I look back on Toastmasters journey each meeting, each speech, each role, and each officer position has taught me the following things:

  1. Everything needs patience and persistence
  2. Serving others helps one’s own self
  3. Always be open to taking up new roles and responsibilities. Say “Yes! I’ll do that!”

For all those reading this piece, I just want you all to undertake this adventurous journey of Toastmasters with full gusto, and as John Amatt says:

Adventure isn’t hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day-to-day obstacles in life.

Written by Raji Bandanapudi of Intel Innovators and Toastmaster Insiders