My Turn: It's Never Too Late to Join Toastmasters

My Turn: It's Never Too Late to Join Toastmasters

Now is the right time
to join Toastmasters!

By Neva Lindell, CTM

Two summers ago I visited a Toastmasters meeting at work. I had joined the company as part of an acquisition and was struggling to get my bearings. The Toastmasters meeting was like a breath of fresh air. The speeches were entertaining and uplifting, the participants were friendly and welcoming to their “honored guest,” and I appreciated the simple structure.

I soon became a member and have been giving speeches and holding officer positions ever since.

Early on after a club meeting, the treasurer and I were tidying up the box of materials. I mentioned that I wished I had joined Toastmasters 10 years ago. I told him I had visited a meeting many years ago, but joining did not seem like the right thing to do at the time. Wisely he said, “It’s always the right time; you just did not know it.”

During a meeting, some of the elder and more experienced members in my club shared their own experience, as well as the ins and outs of the club structure and the educational pathways a person could pursue. In some fashion, each one said, “I wish I had done this much earlier.” They told how their Toastmasters training helped them think on their feet, become better listeners, advance in their careers and generally be more comfortable in expressing their thoughts.

It’s never too late to join Toastmasters and start speaking!

Likewise, it’s never too early to start speaking. Last spring our club held a potluck lunch. Each of us brought a dish and we had an international feast. We played games and had fun.

The highlight of the afternoon was Table Topics. Our Table Topics master explained how Table Topics worked. She asked members, spouses and children to speak. The pitches were phenomenal. One young boy about five years old got up and made eye contact with us all. He proceeded to answer her question with wit and poise. He kept his eye on the green flag. He thanked the audience and sat down. We all clapped.

Some of the other children gave good Table Topic talks, but not quite as good as his. How did he learn to tell a story so well? How did he learn to stand up, make eye contact, speak up and answer the question?

His mother taught him. His ­mother, who was born in The People’s Republic of China, had discovered the benefits of Toastmasters for herself and saw that her son could also benefit. She reasoned that being able to speak well would certainly help him socially and academically, so she set about to find a club for children. She looked on the Internet and asked club officers.

When she discovered there was no official youth Toastmasters program (you must be 18 years old to join), she decided to share what she had learned in Toastmasters with her son and his friends, most of whom are also first-generation Americans. These children are able to speak intelligently and gracefully in front of adults. As they await the time they can in fact join a Toastmasters club, they are benefiting from some of the best practices his mother has passed on to them.

As adults, we do have the opportunity to join Toastmasters to improve our speaking skills, network and become better leaders. We can tap into the rich heritage of the organization and learn what we need to become better communicators – and ­possibly better citizens.

Now is the right time to join Toastmasters! 

Neva Lindell, CTM, is a member of Plano West Toastmasters club in Plano, Texas.