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April 2024
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Member Achievements

Four Toastmasters share their membership milestones.

Michael Hurford

Michael Hurford

Anglia Communicators club
Peterborough, England

Viva Gli Sposi!—Long Live the Happy Couple!

It was February 2017 and my goal was simple … to give a great Father of the Bride speech at my daughter’s wedding less than six months away.

With a mountain to climb ahead of me, I went to my first Toastmasters meeting at Anglia Communicators with no idea of what to expect. It was cold outside, but the welcome was very warm indeed! As I introduced myself, my throat was dry, my voice tremored slightly and my mind went completely blank.

In six months, my development was phenomenal; I learned how to construct a speech and present it with the audience in mind. I developed techniques on reducing fear and managing stress and nervousness. I also became aware of the importance of eye contact and not using filler words. From prepared speeches to Table Topics, I went from strength to strength.

How did it go? Well, I knocked it out of the park! A fabulous day, a wonderful speech and an awesome experience, the men laughed and the women cried. Without the regular practice in front of a supportive audience, I would never have done as well as I did. I delivered for myself, I delivered for my wife and most importantly—I delivered for my daughter.

As I finished the final toast (in perfectly practiced Italian!), my daughter, with a tear in her eye, stood and kissed me—she couldn’t find the words! I enjoyed a standing ovation, but that’s not why I did it. I did it because I wanted to do a great job and enjoy it and, thanks to Toastmasters, I did!

Patrice Francois

Patrice Francois, CC, CL

Emerging Speakers of Elmont • Elmont, New York

More Than I Bargained For

I joined Emerging Speakers of Elmont in New York in April 2013 as a way to speak about my past struggles as an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago. Life has been difficult with many hurdles, and I thought this would be a place where people would listen and not judge.

I got more than I bargained for—I met wonderful people, made lifelong friends and even found my soulmate! On November 12, 2016, I was super excited to be crowned the winner of the Humorous Speech Contest in District 46, which serves New York, Westchester, ¬≠Nassau and Suffolk counties. Not only did I win the contest, but I was able to take that 5- to 7-minute humorous speech and submit it to an organization called UnitedSolo, which is the world’s largest solo theater festival. I then wrote a 45-minute, one-woman play called Frustrated. I performed off-Broadway at Theater Row, where I had two sold-out shows.

Without Toastmasters, these milestones would have never been realized. Toastmasters prepared me to present in front of a crowd, helped me learn how to use the stage, taught me confidence and to give it my all. I’m now enjoying serving as president of my club. This is only the beginning.

Audrey Ha

Audrey Ha

Atherton, California

A Young Leader Emerges

At a time when screens spew an overwhelming flow of information at students, I am profoundly interested in re-energizing the art of persuasive speaking and human interaction. I am an 8th-grade student at Menlo Middle School in Atherton, California, and believe that Toastmasters can be a vehicle for change in my generation. A Toastmasters Youth Leadership program held at my school had a consequential influence on me.

In 2017, I formed a campus club to help students develop public speaking skills. I reached out to Toastmasters for help, and I am grateful to Mr. Philip Cosby for spearheading the Youth Leadership program (YLP) at Menlo. Mr. Cosby, a longtime member of SRI Organon, a local Toastmasters club, enabled me to co-plan and co-run the program’s eight sessions, which evolved into our school’s speakers’ society. He and other members of his club not only mentored and engaged me in the process of leadership and persuasive speaking, but helped catalyze a group of students eager to learn how to present a talk, give and receive generous feedback, and develop confidence in their interactions. Today, our students can comfortably present on any number of valuable issues. Additionally, by being club officers, students broadened their leadership skills.

I now run a flourishing public-speaking club composed of students across grade levels. It is through the generosity of, and our experience with, the YLP that I cultivated the skills necessary to move the club forward. I invite all students interested in developing their persuasive communication skills to benefit from the Toastmasters Youth Leadership program.

Rachel Kraemer

Rachel Kraemer, ACB, CL

Toast O’ The Town Toastmasters • Saint Paul, Minnesota

The Road to Recovery

In 2001, when doctors found a tumor in my brain, I had just completed college and was in my early 20s. Surgery followed, and recovery seemed easy, but my ability to communicate was impacted. Despite some limitations with speech, I was healthy. I had the support of my friends and family and I maintained a full-time job. A few years later I became a mother of two healthy kids. I also completed my doctorate in organizational development while moving forward in the workplace.

In 2013, I joined Toastmasters to improve my public speaking and develop confidence after getting feedback on speeches that were full of “ums” and “ahs.” Four months after joining, the tumor regrew. This time, after a second surgery, recovery was more difficult. Speaking clearly was hard. Reading, even to my young children, was difficult. I felt like I needed to relearn the areas that I learned in elementary school: basic reading, spelling and pronunciation.

Even though recovery was not easy, I was determined to rebuild my health, and my skills. I participated more in my Toastmasters club, and the interaction I had there was an essential part of my recovery—I got better at speaking and reading, while increasing my vocabulary.

Toastmasters continues to be a part of my growth. My speeches have become more creative and clear. Now, filler words are few. I enjoy public speaking. Many tell me that my ability to speak, understand and pronounce words is better than it was before my most recent surgery.

I consider myself lucky. I work, I’m a good mom, and I enjoy spending time with family and friends. As I enjoy happiness and better health, I also continue to improve my confidence and communication skills at Toastmasters, one speech at a time. 

Do you have a Toastmasters success story you’d like to share about yourself or another member? Write it in 300 words or less and send it with a high-resolution photo.


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