Have you ever struggled with addressing a gathering? Have you gone weak in the knees when asked to stand up and make a presentation at work or at a social gathering? Do you struggle for words and go quiet in a conversation? Do you want to be a leader and hone your leadership skills in a fun and lively environment? Then Toastmasters is the perfect environment for you. If you want to check out origins of Toastmasters on Wikipedia.
Be it a stay at home parent looking to boost your confidence or an executive seeking to boost your career or a top leader wanting to polish your public speaking Toastmasters is for you. It will also hone your communication and networking skills. So Toastmasters is a fantastic resource for you.
As a newbie in Gaborone and just having started consulting for a professional services firm in 2013, I had the opportunity to be part of the founding members of the first Corporate Club in Botswana.
I love speaking and having been an avid public speaker since varsity and I thought I do not have much to learn. Silly me! I was surprised at how much I needed to and could diligently learn from an organized club like Toastmasters International. I learnt how not to use filler words like Ahh’s and Umm’s while delivering a speech. Time management, getting to the point, inspiring an audience, speaking to entertain or selling a product persuasively. These are only a few of the skills I have benefited from being a Toastmaster. This has helped me as a businesswoman and an entrepreneur as well.
So What Happens at Club Meeting?
A club meeting is an organized hour and a half where there are two segments. Members take up roles in turns signing up for them in advance to conduct the meeting. A toastmaster for the evening is the general MC of the meeting. There is a timekeeper, Ah counter, a table topics master who conducts an impromptu speaking session and there are usually 2 -3 prepared speeches. The speeches are evaluated by fellow members and give us honest feedback and learning points.
Upon enrollment paid members are given two manuals when the sign up – the Leadership Manual and a Communication Manual. Each Manual has 10 projects to be completed. To complete a project in the communication track you have to prepare and deliver a speech as per the manual guidelines. To complete a project in the leadership track, you have to take up a role in the meeting. You will then get credit for your role. (TM of the evening, timekeeper, evaluator etc).
There is a membership fee of about approximately $45 USD every six months. So I believe that is very reasonable for the benefits one reaps. As you complete manuals at your pace, each member works through various levels. The final one being a distinguished toastmaster (DTM). I am working towards my final leg and hope to be distinguished by June 30th 2018.
There are no religious or political affiliations. It is so cool to get to know so many people from different walks of life. I found so many things in common with different people.
Where is Toastmasters?
There are 7 clubs in Botswana: They are the Gaborone Toastmasters Club, Eloquent Speakers (Both community clubs meet at Thornhill primary school). Botho Botswana, Grant Thornton, FNB & Bofinet are Corporate Clubs besides the latest Toastmasters Social Network Club – A fun club that meets at fun places like coffee shops and restaurants! There is also a Toastmasters Club in Francistown.
Who to Contact
Here are the links to people who you can write to. They can connect you with a club. Clubs normally meet twice a month. You can visit any of the clubs and then choose which one is best suited for you.
Ruth Samuel: [email protected] or Baleseng Thobane: [email protected]
Being the Area Directors, we can guide you to the right club.
Above all Toastmasters are like a family in Botswana where people pitch in for each other with mutual respect, friendliness and comradeship. I have made a few friends and mentors who I can draw support and guidance from for life – through this wonderful platform and I urge you to consider it.