Do you know of Toastmasters Junkies? Have you heard of them? Are you one of them?
Well, let us rather call them Toastmasters Enthusiasts. Junkie sounds bad right?
I remember this one Tuesday in 2016, I attended Absa Breakfast Toastmasters Club in the morning, Standard Bank Operations after work and immediately after that I attended Gold Reef Toastmasters. Interesting thing about all this was that in all the three meetings I delivered a Competent Communicator Speech. Three different speeches in one day. I was a Toastmaster Junkie, I mean Enthusiast. I am glad to say that I have been redeemed.
When I joined Toastmasters in 2014, all I knew was my home club, Standard Bank Operations. I was not born a junkie, I was made. Yeah, Toastmasters, where junkies are made. I mean Enthusiasts. It all started with someone suggesting that to learn one has to visit other clubs. The rationale was that after a while I will be used to my club and speaking will no longer be as challenging. I started visiting nearby clubs, Anglo Easy Speakers, Transnet before it was called Trailblazers, and the next thing I knew it I was a Club Emissary, my mentor just said, “Be a club emissary, you are already visiting clubs.”
I remember one day when I was visiting an event to celebrate a lit leader who had received a Presidential Citation, Rob Douglas DTM PDG. I met this young man named Lazola Belle. He was the Division Director that year. This Division Director was interesting, out of our conversation, he invited me to a trip to Botswana. I was a mere Club President and could not help but ask, “what will I be doing?” His response was short and sweet, “come, we will find a role for you.” I joined the team on a road trip to Botswana, my first ever trip outside South Africa.
Out of this trip and many others that followed I had new best friends and new mentors. Thandwefika Tshabalala, Thabo Malefane, Njabulo Thela, Tebogo Mogapi, just to name few.
My discover in all this was that, what I learnt in my home club alone, as much as I was happy with what I was learning, it was only 10% of what one can learn in Toastmasters International. The rest I learnt from sharing experiences, perceptions and sometimes drinks with other leaders in Toastmasters. It was during this outside Toastmasters meeting, mostly at Thandwefika’s flat, that I would receive feedback on my leadership and find reasons to try different leadership styles.
There is a saying that you cannot open a book without learning. I believe that you cannot attend Toastmasters meeting without learning. I however, believe that if you want to learn exponentially, that is ten times more than your peers, you need to make friends in Toastmasters, attend District Events – Contests, Conferences and GoTo Trainings, become a Toastmasters Junkie, find & create opportunities to learn and share with everyone your learnings.
The best day in my Toastmasters Junkie Journey is when we got stuck in a lift, myself, Thandwefika Tshabalala and Thabo Malefane. You will not believe what we did as we waited for help. We had a Toastmasters meeting. We were good in creating opportunities to learn. I remember Thandwefika’s younger sister visiting and she wanted to visit a Toastmaster Club. There was no club meeting that time and we asked Absa Sundowners to organize a special meeting and we did just that, we created an opportunity to learn.
You are paying to be a member of Toastmasters. There are opportunities to learn and yes you will learn a lot. Consider optimizing your return on investment by always scouting more opportunities and more importantly by creating opportunities to learn.
I was not born a Toastmasters Junkie, I was made.