Club Information
Next Meeting:
26 September 2019

Meeting Time:
18:45 for 19:00, every 2nd & 4th Thursday of the month

(Mingle time from 18:30 to 19:00!)

RSVP:
easy-Speak

Meeting Place:
Tennis Pavilion
Morningside Country Club
1 De La Rey Road
Rivonia

If you are coming from Sandton on Rivonia road, turn left after the Engen garage into 7th Avenue, then left again into De La Rey

District: 74
Division: H
Area: 4
Club Number: 8217
Charter Date: 6/1/1991
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Last year, I got an opportunity to speak at a women’s day event in August to 170 ladies. I was so nervous because I didn’t have a lot of speaking experience to large audiences. In my corporate past, I had done many presentations and I wasn’t a stranger to being in the limelight. But a 40-minute speech to an audience that size, was daunting.

The first thing I did was to find a speaking coach.  A friend recommended a coach that she met at a networking breakfast. I contacted him and set up an initial meeting to assess the fit between us. He provided me with a lot of tips on what makes a good speech and pitfalls to look out for. One of his first recommendations was to join Toastmasters so that I could practice my skills and grow as a speaker in a supportive environment.

I joined Toastmasters a year ago, with only three short months to cram in as much practice as possible before the big event. I visited a few clubs before I settled on Morningside, where I felt the membership base would provide me with a diverse audience in order to polish my message. I jumped into the speeches with gusto and I even visited other clubs to gain feedback on as many projects and aspects of speaking as possible.

My first speech was not great. I knew that I had to talk about my personal experience and I had to get comfortable with being vulnerable. I spoke about my experience of burnout and the impact it had on my life. It felt like a very heavy topic and that helped me to realise that part of my calling is to bring light to this serious issue. I was in the process of writing a book about burnout with guidelines on how not to get there. My aim is to help people to avoid the serious health issues I have encountered as a result of stress. I plan to steer people away from their lives falling apart and to show them how to avoid the suffering I have endured.

MatchesThe more I spoke, the more I learnt about how my message needs to change. Not only did the valuable feedback improve my speaking skills, but it helped me to improve the impact of my message. I took the learnings and incorporated them into my book. I rewrote half of it because of the insights I gained from my speeches and the evaluations at Toastmasters. This came as a complete surprise to me and I never imagined that the speaking would alter my book so much.

 

I met wonderful people who have fascinating experiences to share. I have been inspired, entertained and educated by the speeches I have heard at Morningside. I have had the opportunity to evaluate others, and this has enabled me to grow in further ways. I know that there are many aspects of my speaking that require more work. But looking back over the past year and the thirteen speeches I have done at Toastmasters, I’m so happy and privileged to have had this experience. I was able to try things that are well outside my comfort zone, such as a humorous speech contest. I experimented with topics that were in line with my profession and those that are outside it such as sports. I didn’t expect to grow quite as much as a person as I have done.

MicI did my speech in August last year and it was a resounding success. I felt nervous but I really enjoyed it. I spoke about my story of burnout and how I fixed my life. I connected with some amazing ladies and received wonderful feedback. It was a real push to perform the speech when I had not entirely recovered from my illness. But it was so rewarding and I would do it again.

I have now finished my book and it will be published in a few weeks. I am ready to spread my message and I continue on this path of learning and recovery. I joined at a time when I had been recovering at home for a long time. Toastmasters meetings were a way of venturing out into the world to test the extent of my recovery, and to engage with people again. I’m so grateful for the people I have met so far at Toastmasters and I look forward to all the inspiring and entertaining speeches to come, as well as the chance to grow further.

Kathy Mann, CC (www.facebook.com/kathymannwriter)