My Toastmasters Experience

This is the text of the speech that Best of Dallas Toastmasters member Rachel Steiner gave at her last meeting before leaving us to begin her freshman year at Purdue. We wish Rachel all the best, and can’t wait to hear about her college adventure when she returns!

My Toastmasters Experience

Once upon a time, because that’s how all good stories begin, my dad joined Toastmasters and he came home every Thursday going on and on about the lessons he learned at the meeting, phrases he heard, and people he met at Big “D” Toastmasters. A few times I attended the meetings with my dad (sometimes I was even a prop in a speech he gave), but every time I came, I learned something. When my dad joined a few years ago, I was too young because Toastmasters requires you to be at least 18 years old.

In February of 2014, I turned 18. In June of 2014, I graduated from Richardson High School as a Distinguished Scholar in the top 8% of my class. In July of 2014, I took a trip of a lifetime to Europe with my grandparents and my sister. In August of 2014, the beginning of my gap year, the year between high school and college that I chose to take, began. And in September of 2014, I joined Toastmasters.

I have to admit, I only joined Toastmasters because my dad said I should. I had no idea that Toastmasters would turn into something so important and so helpful to me. But Toastmasters has become something very important to me and something that has helped me tremendously.

I was nervous in the beginning of my Toastmasters career. Speaking in front of people wasn’t my strong suit but it wasn’t a complete fear. I can deliver a speech easily if I have my thoughts written out word for word on paper, and by having these notes my nerves are suppressed. I knew that Toastmasters could help me move away from my notes and also help my extemporaneous speaking skills.

After joining and listening to speeches by Marc Mixon, Kat Mayerovitch, and Leana McGuire, learning from leaders like John Sessions and Linda Martin, and absorbing the enthusiasm Danni Babik has for Toastmasters, I knew that I would get so much more out of this organization than just learning how to ditch the notes or practicing speaking off the cuff.

Toastmasters has made me a better person, student and speaker. I am more enthusiastic about everything in my life and I am more confident about myself and the things I say.

I have completed 5 speeches after tonight, meaning that I am halfway towards completing my CC manual. That is insane.

Toastmasters has opened a whole new network of people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise and I can’t thank everyone enough for accepting me and treating me as an adult.

You know that Toastmasters has become a part of you when an event happens in your life and you say to yourself “Now that would make a great speech!” You know that Toastmasters has become a part of you when you catch yourself using a crutch word and bite your tongue. And you know that Toastmasters has become a part of you when you plan your life around your Toastmasters meetings.

I am a member of two clubs and have attended the advanced club Improv Masters as a guest several times. In less than a week, I will be starting a new chapter of my life at Purdue University in Indiana but I will keep my Toastmaster cliff-hanger open. There are two Toastmaster clubs on campus but they are for graduate students. Once I get comfortable in my new shoes, I will work to charter an undergraduate club. Toastmasters has becomes another defining factor of who I am and it will always be a part of me.

So what have I done in my gap year besides Toastmasters? I have worked over 1500 hours as a waitress at Haystack Burgers and Barley. 4 months after I began working at Haystack, I was promoted to Assistant Manager. I had no idea that would happen, but boy was it an amazing feeling that in such a short amount of time, my boss recognized my work ethic and trusted me with the keys to his baby. Truly a great feeling.

I have prepared myself for First Year Engineering through free online lectures and working through textbooks and their problem sets.

When I was in high school, I never had time to participate in the pit orchestra for the musicals because I had a full academic schedule including 9 AP classes that gave me 19 credits for Purdue. I went back to my high school during my gap year and played in the musical Fiddler on the Roof.

I helped my parents shuttle my sister around to various activities including school, violin lessons and work.

Nearing the end of my speech and the end of this chapter of my Toastmasters career, the manual says this is where the conclusion goes. But I have to tell you in all honesty, the conclusion to this speech, “My Toastmasters Experience,” has yet to be written. The past 11 months have laid the foundation and I think we’ve built the first floor. But I don’t know what the rest of the house will look like just yet … If you’ll have me, I’ll come back in 2016 and finish this speech.