Being unemployed for over two years after losing my job was a nerve wracking experience. I lost confidence in my communication.
During this time I found that I had lost my confidence. It was not easy to meet people and certainly even more difficult to speak to them. The thought of going out in the big wide world was indeed a real challenge.
After almost two years I had become a recluse. Although I eventually found a job I found it hard to interact with anyone. This was even more challenging as my job was in sales!
Struggling to meet targets I became depressed. This was indeed a low point in my life. At one point so desperate I didn’t know which way to turn.
What can I do? Who do I go to? Where should I turn? All difficult questions I couldn’t answer and in the end my doctor had me on anti-depressants – yes, a really difficult time.
Go forth young man!
One day my boss told me to attend a sales seminar which he thought might help. Grabbing the opportunity to leave the office for a short time I attended this seminar. Here I met the keynote speaker, Frank Furness.
Frank addressed the audience with ease and confidence. I was envious but also eager to learn how I could do what he did. At the end of the session, we met up and I plagued him with questions and wrote down all his answers.
He told me that he had been a professional speaker for over 30 years and made a living from it. In fact, he had a new Bootcamp coming up for aspiring speakers where he was going to teach people how to present and speak in front of an audience.
Wow! I thought -what an opportunity. I took a big gamble and I invested in his Bootcamp. Over 3 days on one of the hottest weekends on record paying a large amount of money, I managed to scrape it together and attended.
It was intense. There were 12 of us in the Bootcamp. All novices. It was highly interactive, daunting and nerve wracking at the same time.
During the weekend a number of the delegates kept mentioning something called Toastmasters.
Scared to speak?
What on earth is that? Red coat and Gavel? Introducing people at weddings? Returning home and after some research, I found that there was one club in my home town of Leeds so off I went..
Oh, my goodness what a night that was. A room full of people, in fact there were over 45 in the room that night. I was petrified. Someone asked me if I would like to speak in something they called ‘Table Topics’ – NO CHANCE!
I was so nervous but enthralled and the meeting passed without me having to speak – phew!
Two weeks later I ventured back and was asked the same question – would I like to speak for at least a minute?
Knowing this was the reason I came to increase my confidence in communication, I gave it a go. “You can speak for up to two and a half minutes if you want” said the Table Topics Master. Ha ha as if that would ever be the case. I froze and my first table topic lasted a whole 23 seconds. Knees knocking, palms sweating, cheeks red I could not wait to sit down. I managed to get to my seat. Not sure how though.
From this meeting I made a decision that eventually changed my life – I decided to join.
It changed my life
An initial joining fee plus a regular monthly subscription. It was peanuts compared to what I had paid for Frank Furness, but boy did I love the results.
Progression through the books, the various projects and taking on Leadership roles in the Club, Area and district took me on a magical journey that has affected me ever since.
After succeeding in getting another new and better job, I was able to stand in front of audiences both small and large and do sales presentations. Most of all I found the power of Toastmasters intoxicating.
Finding confidence through communication
Meeting new friends, finding increased confidence, being able to speak without fear – I finally overcame my public speaking nightmare.
I now offer these skills to others. Enabling individuals to overcome their fear, get better jobs and more importantly, increase their confidence.
The joy I feel when I see a nervous person transform into a powerful speaker knows no bounds. They now have confidence through communication.
In summary, if you ever want to learn skills in a safe, supportive environment then there is no better place than Toastmasters International.
Individuals from all walks of life just like you and me come for all sorts of reasons and many of them stay.
Standing proud, articulate, and confident, remember, Toastmasters truly can change your life.