Toastmasters Q&A


Every Toastmaster has a story to tell.
Learn about toastmasters from around the world. Each member has a unique story and purpose for joining Toastmasters. To visit a Toastmasters club near you, search Find a Club.


Prasad Bakre, ACB, ALB Aneeqa Ali, CC, CL Greg Gazin, DTM Amanda Chacon, ACB, ALB
Joey Abram Yat Seow Low, DTM Shahid Quadri, ACB, CL Cyndi Hanson, DTM
Adrian Melia Terry D. Kozlyk, DTM Brian McMahon, CC, CL Sujit Sukumaran, DTM


            For more interviews, browse the archive.

            To share your story, email marketing@toastmasters.org.














Prasad Bakre, ACB, ALB

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined Toastmasters in October 2012, after my senior colleague invited me to attend a meeting. I was impressed by the communication and leadership skills of the club members, and I immediately joined to improve my own skills. I am now a member of two clubs.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: I have improved the delivery and the content of my speeches, and I assume various roles at club meetings. I became vice president education (VPE) of the Sakura Toastmasters club, which went on to achieve President’s Distinguished (Only five clubs in Japan achieved that distinction during the 2013-2014 term). On the professional front, communications between top management and the local subsidiaries of the company I manage have improved.

Q: How are your clubs unique?
A: Tokyo Toastmasters has a great blend of Japanese and foreign members, and energy levels in the club are very high. The mid-career professionals at Sakura Toastmasters are capable of giving extremely constructive feedback. I am proud to be a member of both clubs.

Q: What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience? How has this helped you in your career?
A: As VPE, I learned how to support senior club members. That helped me serve as the link between my company’s head office and its local subsidiaries in the United States, the United Kingdom and India. Due to my improved presentation skills, I can now give impressive presentations within and outside of the organization.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?
A: I tell them Toastmasters provides a supportive environment in which to fail, and learn from failures. You develop confidence, even when faced with challenging public speaking situations. In real life, you can’t afford to experiment like you can in Toastmasters.

Q: What do you consider to be the highlights of your Toastmasters experience?
A: Winning the Japanese Language Area Speech Contest was one highlight, since my native language is Marathi and I won against native Japanese speakers. Meeting Michael Notaro and Daniel Rex are two other experiences that inspired and motivated me.

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Aneeqa Ali, CC, CL

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined Toastmasters in 2012 to develop my communication skills after visiting a club to learn how the program works. I attend meetings regularly so that I don’t miss out on any of the fun, and the learning experiences that the Toastmasters education program provides.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: I have learned how to stand up and present my ideas with confidence—without any ahs or ums. I now welcome new assignments at work, and I interact with my team and perform my job more efficiently and effectively. Whether I’m delivering good messages or bad news, I feel more confident when speaking.

Q: How is Your Home Club Unique?
A: I like its versatility, its supportive and fun environment, and its atmosphere, which is conducive to learning.

Q: What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience? How has this helped you in your career?
A: Currently, I serve as vice president membership. I have also conducted membership campaigns, speech contests and Table Topics as Table Topicsmaster, and I continue to gain experience by participating in all club activities.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?
A: I tell them there are two kinds of people: those who are Toastmasters and those who are not. Once you become a member, your life transforms and a new world emerges—one that’s full of learning, fun and friends. You become more social and professional and capable of expressing yourself. But above all, you learn how to lead because Toastmasters is a place where leaders are made.

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Greg Gazin, DTM

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined in 2002, reluctantly. I had the confidence to speak in front of a group or so I thought—but only if I had a script and knew everyone in the room. Besides, I was busy running two businesses and caring for my dad who had suffered a stroke. But I was soon humbled as I struggled through my first Table Topics speech. After that 11-second knee-knocking experience, I spent the remainder of the meeting looking at my watch like a schoolboy waiting for the 3 o’clock bell to ring. That was about 12½ years ago.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: Exponentially, and still growing. As a communicator, I feel more confident when speaking to audiences. In fact, I now speak on TV and radio, and present sessions on how small businesses can use technology and gadgets. (I’m known as “The Gadget Guy.”) As a leader, taking on club and district roles has strengthened my ability to shift from managing people and resources to motivating, inspiring and mentoring others.

Q: How is Your Home Club Unique?
A: We have a diverse mix of members. Several are entrepreneurs, and the ones who aren’t have an entrepreneurial spirit. Members tell incredible stories, and we have powerful learning experiences. We also laugh a lot and have fun with Toastmasters-themed social events, which include family and friends, but we take learning seriously. Meeting themes center around communication, leadership and business, but we include whimsical and musical themes like opera and The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.” We build strong relationships in our club, and we embrace the words of Dr. Ralph Smedley: “We learn in moments of enjoyment.”

Q: What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience? How has this helped you in your career?
A: After taking on leadership positions in my club, noteworthy growth came when I served as area governor and then as district governor. My experience has helped me go from “doing things” in my profession to sharing, teaching, training, consulting and inspiring others to “do.” My Toastmasters experience has even helped me publish my first book, Corey OutSMARTs the Butterflies, which helps readers of any age build confidence and speaking skills.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?
A: Joining Toastmasters can transform you. It’s a safe place to make mistakes. Once you get on board, the possibilities are endless. You have no idea where it can lead. It’s like Star Trek—it helps you “boldly go” where you’ve never gone before. Toastmasters is part of my life, rather than just another thing I have to do each week.

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Amanda Chacon, ACB, ALB

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: As a child, I was often chosen to read aloud at school because of the quality of my voice. Naturally, people assumed I would make a great public speaker, but the idea of giving an original speech terrified me. In 2012, I decided to do something to overcome my fear—I joined Toastmasters.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: My attitude has completely changed, and I am more knowledgeable and confident as a leader than I was prior to joining my club. I no longer turn down speaking opportunities; I even seek them out.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: I like the diversity of its membership. I get to meet people from all around the world, and I enjoy spending time with supportive and welcoming club members who are committed to personal growth and achievement.

Q: What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience?
A: I have served as a club officer several times. Recently, I served as club president during my club’s most successful year in the Distinguished Club Program. I credit Toastmasters with giving me the confidence to achieve that.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?
A: I am proof that the Toastmasters education program works! However, like with most things in life, you only get what you put in. To get the most out of Toastmasters, you have to challenge yourself and be willing to take advantage of public speaking and leadership opportunities.

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Joey Abram

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: My older brother Johnny inspired me to join. After he started going to Toastmasters meetings, I noticed how confident and poised he became in our conversations together. He spoke highly of Toastmasters, and so I joined in August 2013.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: As a communicator, I have grown more comfortable in speaking situations, be it in conversations with one person or as part of a group. I take control of my words and have a built-in awareness of filler words to avoid, as well as a stronger vocabulary. As a leader, I am more assertive because I am brave enough to speak candidly and justify my actions articulately.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: My club is all about personal growth. We have members of all backgrounds, ages and years of experience. Each member exudes a positive outlook and the ambitious desire to improve, both of which are conducive to the development of each member in the club. However, my favorite thing is how the sign-up sheet for club roles is always full months in advance. It’s a great ‘problem’ to have.

Q: What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience?
A: I have taken on the role of vice president membership. Our corporate club has strong visibility, and guests visit often, so recruiting new members isn’t a concern. I am more focused on retaining members, and so I introduce different ways to engage members. For example, the after-work ‘happy hour’ I organized gives members the opportunity to socialize outside of club meetings.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?
A: I tell them Toastmasters accepts you for who you are, and helps you become whatever you aspire to be.

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Yat Seow Low, DTM

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined in 1995 to improve my English writing, speaking and communication skills, since English is not my native language. I now realize the importance of good communication skills in career development. After two years as a member, I also began participating in the leadership track after a senior member of my club encouraged me to take on a leadership role.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: Toastmasters has helped me become a better person, because I can listen, speak and think more clearly. I see feedback in a more positive manner, at home, at work and socially. I can also provide positive feedback to others, when previously I would offer only criticism. I have also learned about the amazing tool of positive encouragement following the evaluation sessions at the club level.

Stress is something I can handle better now—I work full-time at my job, while taking an active part in Toastmasters. I have also increased my ability to work within a team at Toastmasters, at work and at home. I have a better understanding of the importance of vision, mission, critical success factors and core values, as stressed by Toastmasters International.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: My club is supported by members with leadership experience in Toastmasters. They provide a solid foundation for new and current members. Our meetings are fun and our members are friendly. We have people from various age groups and different backgrounds, yet we are able to work together as a team.

Q: What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience?
A: I have held a variety of leadership roles, including district governor. I also served as a parliamentarian and participated on the International Leadership Committee.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?
A: That Toastmasters is fun! As our founder Dr. Smedley so aptly said, “We learn in moments of enjoyment.” I have enjoyed all my years in Toastmasters and I will continue to have fun, and grow to become a better person.

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Shahid Quadri, ACB, CL

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined six years ago. I was struggling to express myself, both personally and professionally. As a web designer, I often felt intensely anxious when presenting my work to clients. Even though they rarely noticed, it was incredibly stressful for me, so I joined to improve my speaking abilities.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: I’ve grown by taking more chances in work and in life. In addition to doing graphic design work, I’m now helping write presentations and I’m coaching speakers. I’ve also led brainstorm sessions and innovation workshops related to solving design challenges. The confidence to do this came, somewhat ironically, from becoming intimate with my weaknesses and working to eliminate them and improve through participation in Toastmasters.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: I like the diversity. We meet in downtown Toronto, and we get people of different backgrounds and language proficiencies—from filmmakers to financial professionals, think-tank types and image consultants.

Q: What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience?
A: I became club president a few years ago. Our club was in transition at the time, and after less than two years as a member I became the most senior person in what had suddenly become a club of relatively new members. I was the only one with experience as a club leader. As president, I participated to a greater extent, and I was glad I did. The most important thing I learned was how to lead by example.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?
A: I tell them it’s a great place to fail, while gaining the skills to improve. I give them examples of my public speaking failures and then I give examples of my speaking successes.

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Cyndi Hanson, DTM

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined in 2002, after completing a master's degree. I wanted to continue to learn, be challenged, and experience continuous growth, and one of my classmates suggested Toastmasters. Not only have I learned from members’ speeches and evaluations, I also developed a comfort level with "small talk" through Table Topics.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: In the past, I wasn’t interested in public speaking because I felt I lacked expertise. Now I get asked to speak periodically at professional conferences, and I am more confident knowing I have a valuable message to share. I've also learned to value my talents in listening and evaluation, and I embrace my role as a mentor. Toastmasters helped me recognize that a leader isn't a leader because of a position or title, but because of the action they take.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: We have fun while learning and growing. We share our passion for learning, and I feel invigorated each time I participate in a meeting.

Q: What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience?
A: I enjoyed being area governor and learning more about the Toastmasters organization. I also was secretary for one district, and treasurer for another. Through my High Performance Leadership project, I learned how to motivate volunteers (you don't use pay as an incentive!), and redirect their competitive spirit to achieve a common mission. I'm now serving as Learning Master, which challenges me to think about my own perspective while incorporating the views of others.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?
A: There are two things that I tell them—Toastmasters is addicting and life-changing. Spending time in an environment where everyone is focused on growth produces positive energy. Once you experience that energy, it is practically impossible to walk away. Knowing that members see your potential and provide encouragement is life-changing. I have done so much in my life that I don't think I would have, had it not been for Toastmasters.

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Adrian Melia

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined Toastmasters in November 2010. A friend had been suggesting I join. She said I would love it. I was a little skeptical, but after making a short speech at my father’s funeral and getting great feedback from it, I decided it was time to join. It was a great decision.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: Everything is just so much easier. I work as a press photographer and good communication skills are a must. Recently I gave a speech, without notes, to sponsors, politicians and guests on behalf of the Press Photographers Association. I held everyone’s attention, thanks to Toastmasters training.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: What I like best about my club, Kildare Toastmasters, in Kildare, Ireland, is that it’s friendly and fun.

Q: What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience?
A: I recently completed the Competent Leadership manual, and gave talks at area club officer training sessions. As club president, I work with the club’s committee to grow my club and move it forward.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?
A: You learn a lot, and it gives you the confidence to speak in public. Members are supportive, and you learn organizational skills in a group context. It’s great that you can reach out to other Toastmasters almost anywhere you happen to be, and you are welcome in any club in the world. When traveling, I try to visit a club wherever I go.

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Terry D. Kozlyk, DTM

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined in 1987 after a friend asked me if I had ever heard of Toastmasters. I became curious, and I was sold on his endorsement that Toastmasters is a worthy investment of time.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: I am now more conscious of how I sound while speaking. I attribute that to delivering speeches at my club, and to competing in speech contests. I am more observant of body language, and I pay better attention to questions that are asked of me.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: I like the diversity of its membership. Each member brings something unique to meetings. I also like that our club attracts guests. I enjoy inspiring our visitors and enticing them to join; but I believe that Toastmasters sells itself, just as any good product or service does. There is no need to pressure anyone. When visitors do join, I learn by observing their skills and listening to their ideas.

Q: What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience?
A: I have held a variety of club officer positions, and I served twice as an area governor. But, first and foremost, I gained experience by leading myself as I set speaking goals and used feedback to improve my delivery of manual speeches.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?
A: You will be hard-pressed to find another organization whose members provide this level of peer support and feedback. Members are genuinely interested in your success, and in your growth as a speaker and a leader.

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Brian McMahon, CC, CL

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined Toastmasters early in 2010 when my employer established a club. What I most wanted was to improve my impromptu speaking skills. I wanted to be able to speak without notice when the occasion demanded it.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: I am far more comfortable in the spotlight, and this confidence helps me organize my thoughts before expressing my ideas. For instance, as part of my job at the Powerlink Queensland electricity company, I often work with third parties, such as road authorities when their new highway must pass through our high-voltage electricity network. Since joining Toastmasters, I am more comfortable in my role. I also mentor new club members, and won a club-level international speech contest in 2012.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: Being an active member of a corporate club gives me the opportunity to connect with people of all ages and backgrounds throughout the company, extending my reach far beyond my usual contacts. The level of engagement of our active members inspires me, and despite having club speakers sent out of town on company business at the last minute, we are always able to find volunteers to step in to take their place during meetings. I also like that our club has a reputation for producing public speakers for company functions, including master of ceremonies for awards presentations and debaters for our International Women’s Day debate, as well as facilitators for staff training sessions.

Q: What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience?
A: I have served as vice president public relations, vice president membership and sergeant at arms for my club, and in early 2013, I produced a Toastmasters orientation program for new employees. I attend area training each year, and I will serve as sergeant at arms for our next area conference.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?
A: Participating in Toastmasters is fun and scary, often at the same time. The program is very well thought out. You can’t help but develop skills across the board if you follow the steps in the manuals and actively pursue an education award. Listening well and expressing your views are both vital to leadership, and Toastmasters is an excellent environment in which to develop both.

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Sujit Sukumaran, DTM

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined Toastmasters in 2006 because I wanted to get over my introversion and deliver a speech in front of an audience. Considering the fact that I have had cerebral palsy since birth, my main challenge was first to stand up, and then to speak!

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: I have grown to become the youngest DTM in the Middle East. I spoke at a TED event, and discovered that you never know who might be inspired by your message, so reach out! I have grown as a leader by serving people and helping them reach their goals, and I developed an “others-first” way of thinking, as compared to my previous “me-first” attitude.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: What I like best about my home club, Star of Arabia, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is the way it preserves tradition and supports young people, like me, who strive for leadership or communication accolades.

Q: What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience?
A: I am currently serving as division governor and club vice president education. I have also served as area governor and club president.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?
A: I say that Toastmasters took me from disability to capability to opportunity. I tell them Toastmasters has been a part of my life for 10 years now, seven years as a Toastmaster and three years as a member of a Gavel club, and that I adhere to the values that it teaches. I never miss a chance to promote the organization and recruit new members.

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Toastmasters Q&A Archive



Nicole Celestine, CC, ALB

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined Toastmasters in the fall of 2011, primarily to increase my confidence, because delivering speeches was becoming a regular part of my professional and personal life. I also wanted to develop the skills necessary to prepare and execute my speeches, and pursue additional professional speaking opportunities.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: My confidence level has increased. I now take time to pause and collect my thoughts before speaking, which helps me to relax and be more assured of the message I share with my audience. As a leader, I mentor two Toastmasters members. And in 2012, I represented my club at our area’s speech evaluation contest.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: I like the camaraderie and the supportive and friendly atmosphere of my club. We have a diverse group, with members representing the federal government and private industries. They come with varied backgrounds and interests, and a wealth of information. This creates a rich exchange of ideas as members give advice, mentor and share their knowledge. Several members have unpredictable work schedules, and some travel out of state, but all club members remain flexible, and carry on—even if things change at the last minute.

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Eric Zawid, ACG, ALB

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined Toastmasters in 2008, with the intent of better distinguishing myself at work. My job required me to give presentations. I knew I had to improve my speaking and presentation skills in order to impress my boss, so I joined Toastmasters.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: I have grown into a more confident communicator. The most obvious improvement is in my ability to deliver speeches at work. I practice using vocal variety, humor and visual aids at Toastmasters meetings. Because of the feedback I get from club members, I can make improvements to my presentations before I deliver them at work. I earned a 2013 Chairman’s Award for my community service role at Caesars Palace and based my High Performance Leadership project on that experience.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: I look forward to seeing my fellow Toastmasters each week. They take the fear out of public speaking by making it an enjoyable experience. We hold special events once a month, including a Best Table Topics of the Year contest or Murder Mystery- or Olympics-themed meeting. Sometimes we even conduct a meeting backwards, but we always have fun.

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Keli Yen, ACS, ALB

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined Toastmasters in 2006 after losing my job because of a presentation I delivered to a board of directors. I was sabotaged by fear. I walked out of that meeting feeling fed up with stage fright. I had to face it, and that’s why I joined Toastmasters.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: Surprisingly, I now enjoy the experience of being onstage! In general, I feel more comfortable speaking to others, using silence for communication, and I am discovering my own speaking style. Toastmasters is also training me to view challenges as opportunities to see what I can do. I am learning to accept my mistakes as an iterative process in discovering what communication and leadership mean to me.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: I like the way members accept one another. I admire their ingenuity in creating strategies for achieving quality meetings and experimenting with different ways of learning. For example, we ask our Toastmaster to be responsible for the entire meeting agenda, we use Google Docs to track each other’s needs and progress, and we sign up for roles weeks in advance. We continually think of ways to improve the quality of service to our members. Underlying these improvements are the wonderful friendships and the culture of community support we’ve created.

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Yasser Abdullah Sulaiman, ACS, CL

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I was a member of a self-development group, when one of the members discovered Toastmasters. The concept appealed to everyone in our group, and so in 1999 we chartered the first Toastmasters club in the country of Oman: Muscat Club.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: Toastmasters had a significant impact on my career. Through its educational program, I discovered my talent for training. By attending Toastmasters meetings, I learned more about people, perspectives and events. Toastmasters empowered me with self-confidence, creativity and people skills, and helped me become the person I am today.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: I am attracted to the energy and richness brought about by the diversity of club members, including those in my home club, New Track Toastmasters, in Muscat—they have fertile minds and powerful imaginations.

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Clare Edwards, CC

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: Although I was comfortable with presenting prepared speeches, I froze like a deer in the headlights when it came to impromptu speaking. That is why in 2010 I joined the club in Maroochydore, Australia.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: Last year I attained my Competent Communicator award. Now I am working through The Professional Speaker and Storytelling manuals. In regard to impromptu speaking, I once was a waffling mumbler, but in 2011, I represented my club and area in the Table Topics Speech Contest. I still get nervous and sometimes struggle while structuring a speech on short notice, but I have made great progress. This new-found ability to think on my feet has also helped me in my job as a professional facilitator.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: I love my club’s special blend of formality and irreverence! We have achieved a culture of constant support. We challenge each other whenever necessary, but always with a cheeky smile.

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Tiger Palafox, ACB

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined the Progressive Speakers club in El Cajon, California, in October 2008 to prepare for a 30-minute presentation to an audience of 1,000 people.

Q: How have you grown as a communicator and leader since you joined Toastmasters?
A: I now speak more clearly, with renewed focus and energy. Being a better speaker has reinforced my leadership role at work. I now speak with confidence—when I speak, people tend to listen. By giving evaluations in my club, my leadership skills improved. These skills are critical for any manager. The best way to operate a business is to provide constructive evaluations that employees can feel good about.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: That each meeting provides a learning experience for members of different experience levels and ages. I appreciate the practice I get in presenting to a diverse demographic.

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Faye Dunn

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I attended my first Toastmasters meeting in May 2008 as a guest, and became a member three months later. I was a very nervous speaker then, and was frustrated by my mistakes with English grammar. I joined Toastmasters to become a better speaker and to improve my English.

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: Before I joined Toastmasters, I could not speak in front of a group of people. Each time I tried, my brain went blank, my heart palpitated and my blood ran upside down. Although I am still nervous, I am able to control my nervousness.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: All the members are very positive and inspiring. When the club was new, everyone talked about how nervous they were when they spoke in public, and I realized I was not alone. Since that time, I have achieved what I was aiming for, but I have also gained a lot more.

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Karin Lindner, ACB, CL

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined the Richmond Hill Toastmasters Club in February 2004 because my former boss thought it would improve my English speaking skills. As a second-language speaker from Austria, I was a newcomer to Canada and nervous about attending my first meeting. I remember sitting in my car contemplating my decision to go in. I was unaccustomed to the formal English language in Toastmasters meetings, and had little understanding of it. This was nine years ago and I haven’t looked back. Toastmasters has changed my life!

Q: Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?
A: I challenged myself by competing in various speech competitions, and I learned the importance of venturing beyond my comfort zone. Three years after I joined Toastmasters, I lost my job due to restructuring. I started a business as a trainer, facilitator and corporate coach in the manufacturing industry. I also self-published my first book, How Can We Make Manufacturing Sexy? Doors continue to open for me in the international speaking circuit; however, the main thing I learned was to always strive to become a better speaker and communicator.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: I appreciate the club’s friendly and welcoming atmosphere, as well as the members’ supportive spirit. We are fortunate to have several long-term members who are great mentors. New members are always impressed by how efficiently our meetings are conducted.

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Anita Jefferson, DTM

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined as a member of Dawn-Breakers Toastmasters in 1995 because I was a shy introvert. Prior to joining Toastmasters, my voice was shallow and squeaky. Today, because of Toastmasters, I speak eloquently. I saw Toastmasters as an established learning system that would allow me to challenge my shyness and grow as a leader—and it definitely did so.

Q: How have you grown as a communicator and leader since you joined Toastmasters?
A: I have grown exponentially. My health was failing during the time I became a member, but mentoring younger minds as a Gavel Club coordinator for four Gavel Clubs became my lifeline, which helped heal me. I also hosted the “Anita Answers” radio show for six years and am currently a board councilwoman of the Junior League of Atlanta. I always attribute my confidence as an organizational leader or platform speaker to my experience in Toastmasters, which is why I will be a life-long member.

Q: What do you like best about your club?
A: I love the supportive “family” spirit and no-competition atmosphere of our club. I am also very proud that Dawn-Breakers members continuously support Gavel Clubs.

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Debbie Adams, ACB, ALB

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined Toastmasters in 2009 so I could learn to present to a large audience. I am a writer, but I was not using speech as a medium to get my message across. I also joined to meet like-minded people.

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am a diversity strategist and owner of PeopleCan Consulting, a company that promotes organizational change and diversity management. My particular area of interest is gender and generational diversity, and I particularly work with the commercial construction and resource development industries.

Q: How do you use communication skills in your career or daily life?
A: The skills I have learned at Toastmasters are invaluable in every area of my day-to-day life. As an entrepreneur, I’m often called upon to articulate my proposal to potential clients and people in educational settings. I also serve on several boards and use my facilitation skills to ensure that meetings run smoothly. Communication skills are essential to my industry.

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James Eid

Q: When and why did you join Toastmasters?
A: I joined Toastmasters in 2004 because great leaders need to be fluent when they speak and give presentations, and I aspire to be a great leader.

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am a consultant, and I put my ideas to work each day. The goal is to create value for my clients. Translating value requires a simplified message and great communication skills.

Q: How do you use communication skills in your career or daily life?
A: Our clients make multimillion dollar decisions, and their time is at a premium. We must package the correct information for the client and deliver it to him or her in an understandable format.

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Darlene Burrill

Q: Why and when did you join Toastmasters?
A: I have a speech impediment, so I had trained myself to speak in public only on rare occasions to avoid ridicule and embarrassment. I finally decided to join Toastmasters in 2006, and now, I am a confident woman who has the willingness to take risks and succeed.

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am a full-time grandmother.

Q: How do you use communication skills in your daily life?
A: Since joining Toastmasters, I have overcome about 95 percent of my speech impediment. This has given me a new lease on life, because speech is a part of everyday life and I no longer fear talking to strangers. Now, I participate fully in the conversation.

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