Join Toastmasters for personal and professional development

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Seidl
  • Defense Media Center
I've been privileged to be part of two Toastmasters clubs while stationed at the Defense Media Center at March Air Reserve Base (the Dawn Busters and the High Definition Speakers). I'm a charter member of the High Definition Speakers and I recently completed my Competent Communicator award with them. 

I started in Toastmasters in 2005 as a way to continue my professional development after the Non-commissioned Officer Academy. Toastmasters International is a nonprofit organization that helps people become more comfortable and confident in front of an audience. I predicted that Toastmasters would be easy for me, since I'm a Radio and Television Broadcaster in the Air Force and speaking to the public was nothing new to me. 

I was surprised to find it was actually pretty hard at first. Giving an icebreaker in front of a crowd of new people who are paying full attention to you takes a lot of nerve, even if you have previous speaking experience. Picking a topic from a vast sea of possibilities also proved to be difficult, especially since the topic must be selected to best serve your audience, your project, and your needs and abilities. Once you start, though, each occasion comes easier and easier.

As I had thought originally, Toastmasters has indeed been of service to me in my professional career as I've been able to list my membership on performance reports and award packages. 

Toastmasters also helped me personally. One thing that surprised me was the way it opened up a new channel of communication between my husband and me. Whenever I was freaking out about what topic to choose for my next Toastmaster project, my husband would let me use him as a sounding board. After meetings, he would listen to my glowing reports of successes that night. 

Toastmasters helped me get to know my co-workers, which enriched me personally. 

I would recommend in the strongest terms possible that every active duty member of any service immediately invest in themselves and make both the time and funds available to join at least one Toastmasters chapter. There is no better opportunity to show you care about your career and want to achieve, no matter what your duties and job description may be. All military members are expected to stand and deliver information in front of a group. Toastmasters will make you good at it. 

Even if you are not in the military, I would still recommend joining Toastmasters. The camaraderie, learning, and challenges will make a difference in your life and give you room to stretch and grow. 

Toastmasters is an outstanding organization, and I'm grateful and pleased to be part of it.