Where Junkies Are Made

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.