Bill Vineyard, ACB, ALB, is chief operating officer at a telecommunications company. A longtime member of the Wallingford Toastmasters club in Seattle, Washington, he uses his public speaking skills at work and during community events.
Lara Simmons, CC, works for the Seattle Public School District and has self-published two books. She is enrolled in a graduate program at Seattle University. Although she had no desire to improve her public-speaking skills, she visited a club and joined because of the friendliness of the members.
Why did you choose Bill as your mentor?
He is the heart and soul of our club. He is supportive and encouraging, and is happy to share his wealth of knowledge about Toastmasters.
Why do you stay in Toastmasters?
Once I started giving speeches I realized I lacked confidence and the ability to connect with my audience. I am so focused; I almost forget that anyone is listening. I am not good at responding to the energy in the room and making changes to my speech on the fly, which is important when teaching or speaking to a group about my books.
How does Bill help you?
Before every speech, I try to convince myself to quit. I think, I feel sick. This is not for me. Then, afterward, I feel great. This is the best thing ever! I love this! These extremes are sometimes hard to weather and I find Bill’s steadfastness comforting and inspiring. He helps me remember how showing up, volunteering and supporting my fellow members is as important—and meaningful— as giving speeches. It helps me focus less on my nervousness and more on being a good club member.
How do you apply what you’ve learned in the club?
Being a Toastmaster has given me a quiet confidence that affects every area of my life. I am more comfortable putting myself out there and inviting feedback. For example, as part of the application process for my graduate degree I had to do a group interview and volunteered to go first—I accepted the challenge, and I believe the moderator was impressed. I trust in my ability to speak my truth in the moment, in an articulate way, much more than I did before becoming a Toastmaster.
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Mary Nesfield is associate editor for Toastmaster magazine. Reach her at email@example.com.