Heather Riches

Change your life and gain friends for life, join Toastmasters.

I first learnt about Toastmasters when I was at school. The local Toastmasters club was judging the inter school speech contest, during the contest one of the judges gave an entertaining speech on the flu which I still clearly remember.

When I had my first work annual performance review coming up (in 2010), I decided to put in that I was going to join Toastmasters to improve my confidence. Just saying I was going to join gave me lots of brownie points with my boss, the company said they would cover the membership and encouraged everyone else in my office to join. I didn’t know much about Toastmasters and was now committed before attending a meeting, which I think is good because it can take a few meetings to understand everything.

After a few years as a member someone else in the club suggested I took on the role of club president, they said it was the easiest role. Knowing I had their support (and it didn’t require anything) I agreed to take on the position.

Then three years ago the Area Director at the time said I should be their successor and follow them in the role. Initially I declined saying not while I was doing further study. A year later I wasn’t studying and took on the role, I am very glad I did. I enjoyed visiting the other clubs in the area, attending District Training and especially attending events like District Conference which I had never attended before.

At the end of that year I was asked if I wanted to be Division Director, initially I said no but after sleeping on it I decided to give it a go. I have loved the experience as Division Director. It has allowed me to attend even more training weekends, run leadership training with the Area Directors, attend club events over the Division, share Pathways resources and promote the Toastmasters experience.

In succession planning it recommends we look for someone who has the qualities to take on our current role, I see this as quite important. Without the initial support of others, I don’t think I would have nominated myself for the roles above which have lead to so many good experiences. When others nominate and support you into roles it is quite rewarding. It is really encouraging to get supportive feedback from Toastmasters and to know they believe in me (more than I might believe in myself).

I also like the continuous supportive feedback we get at Toastmasters and the skills I take with me into work situations. Before I get out of the vehicle to speak to the contractors I think about what I want to cover, like I do with Toastmasters speeches.

Toastmasters clubs are like family, no matter where I go I know I will be welcomed into a nearby club meeting. I am happier to travel as I know I will be able to attend club meetings and meet people.

Give Toastmasters a Go – it could change your life.