Your Toastmasters Journey will be enriched with Mentoring

Written by Sam Ollinger

I recently signed on to my Pathways account on toastmasters.org and found the original date I joined Toastmasters 7 was September 1, 2012! Almost-seven years seem like an entire lifetime ago. I was a different person when I joined Toastmasters. I just started a small non-profit organization with an ambitious mission and promptly got invited to speak in front of 500 people to articulate my philosophy and vision for all these 500 strangers. When I accepted the invitation graciously, I panicked! I was terrible speaking to more than a single person, 500 seemed like….a lot.
Frantically, I began googling toastmasters groups because I recalled reading about them in the numerous self help books I’d read over the years. I found a group – they were highly rated on Yelp, and even better – located a short bike ride away from my home – that group was Toastmasters 7!

That first meeting I walked in, I still remember my nervousness. I was a few minutes late. The meeting had already started.

The air was warm.

Sunlight was streaming through the windows.

Someone was talking.

The Sargent-at-Arms, Brian Austin, got up and came over and in a quiet voice welcomed me and quelled my nervousness. I found an empty seat in the back where I sat and observed the meeting.

The subsequent weeks, I kept going back. I didn’t fully understand how the meetings worked. However, there were all these elders… Longstanding members who walked me through my journey. They scheduled me for speeches and roles, encouraged and helped me improve my speeches. Yet, no person played a bigger role than my mentor, Harold “Magnum” Mangum, in terms of getting me to finish my communication manual. 

I am not sure how Magnum was assigned to be my mentor, but he was levels above anyone in his absolute mastery of his audience and message. We’d meet for coffee, and periodically check in – and he was nothing short of encouraging, motivating, and simply captivating. Thanks to Magnum, I have won too many of those blue ribbons to count and found my voice on stage.

Now I have the honor of mentoring a new member, Monica Feliz – a true Philadelphian woman – meaning she has all the spunk you’d expect from someone who is a native from the city of Brotherly Love. And I get the opportunity to mentor her through her unique Toastmasters journey. Monica is a millennial and I am learning a lot about this descriptor including the fact that none of the younger members will read this lengthy post and so I need to figure out how to make the message I want to convey a little more bite sized and interesting despite my absolute love for long form writing.
I ENCOURAGE YOU to join your local Toastmasters (like Toastmasters7!). You will find a group of committed, encouraging, captivating individuals, who will help in your journey to become a masterful communicator as well as a laudatory leader.
Mentorship works in any field, and it is especially helpful in a self-improvement journey that is Toastmasters.

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