My first exposure to Toastmasters was back in the 1980s. I had been working my first job for about two years and an office-mate of mine wanted me to join her and attend a meeting for Toastmasters. I did not know what the club was about, but “Toastmasters” sounded very classy. So I went with her.
We got to the meeting place, and we entered a room with about 4 middle-aged people. They explained what toastmasters was about, and what to expect. I sat through the entire meeting. I don’t recall ever taking part. And I never went back.
A few years earlier, I attended a “Dale Carnegie” seminar. I wanted to be better at public speaking, I truly did. The seminar lated a few weeks, and by the end, I observed a big improvement. Not in myself, but my fellow attendees. I observed them open up, express emotions, and more. But I saw no change in myself. At least, nobody ever told me.
It might have been different with Toastmasters, but I was not ready; I did not want to go through another speaking course. Besides, I had more important plans to implement. I was about to start my MBA classes.
Fast forward a few years and I again wonder about missed opportunities. And my thoughts went back to Toastmasters. So I asked around and did a few internet searches and ended up with Sykos – Sykesville Toastmasters in the year 2010. I gave my first prepared speech then. It was unfortunate that the group closed down. Everybody was too busy. Lunch meetings are never long enough, everybody is in a hurry.
The second club I joined was The Motivators Toastmasters. This group was in Elkridge and like Sykos, composed of office-mates. Well, company-mates at least. I worked with them in the same company, but not the same department. But with Motivators, a little over half of the members worked for The Center for Watershed Protection (CWP), which was great. There was the possibility to talk about things different from work. Unfortunately, after a few weeks, the people from CWP were allowed to work from home. They lost the reason to be in Elkridge and we lost over half our members.
After the closing of Motivators, I sought a club that was not work related. And did not meet during lunch break. I had plenty to choose from at work were it not for those two requirements. I visited Toasted by Proxy at the Universities at Shady Grove. But parking was always a problem.
And that was when I found Town Center Talkers Toastmasters. The members are diverse, different ages and place in life. Here was a club with plenty of materials. And I thought maybe, this is where I can complete all 10 speeches. I have to. Otherwise I will have spent years jumping club to club and completing nothing. And I did not want that.
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