• Karen Brook

A Member's Welcome to Toastmasters

Toastmasters! What’s that about?!

It was a cold January day. I felt like I was ready for a new challenge. As luck would have It, whilst sitting with a group of friends in a warm cafe, I was drawn to an conversation at the other end of the table. Intrigued, I blurted out to Bill who was chatting to a mutual friend ‘Toastmasters? What’s that about?’.

‘We help people practice and learn how to do public speaking in a supportive environment. We’ve a meeting this Tuesday’ he said, then added ‘Guests are always welcome’ (That’s the same now as it was back then). ‘I’ll be there!’ I announced.

Where’s the Meeting?

On the night of the meeting, as I pulled into the hotel car park, I noticed several men dressed in grey suits, sat by a large window in a function suite. ‘Oh heck, I hope it’s not going to be full of intimidating business people all suited and booted!’. I didn’t have a business background. I just wanted to learn how to be a better speaker in public so I could take my turn with my colleagues, at our case study meetings.

I was told to look for the Toastmaster banner, outside the meeting room, but I couldn’t see it anywhere! (every club has a Toastmaster banner outside the meeting room). I walked towards the room where the grey suits were sitting, however I was too shy to go in. ‘I’ll just ask at reception’ I mused to myself.

Checking In.

Two foreign guests were checking in at reception. I waited behind them kicking my heels. Time was getting on! And my anxiety went up a further notch when the two newly checked in guests asked the receptionist where the best places to visit in and around town were. The receptionist then asked them if they would like to order sandwiches for a packed lunch. ‘Come on. Come on’ I muttered to myself. I started to sweat. ‘I’m going to be late’ I told myself through pursed lips. Should I just walk boldly into room with the grey suits? I daren’t!

I’m Going to be Late!

Finally, I got to the desk. ‘Where is the Toastmasters meeting?’ I asked. ‘Toastmasters meeting? No. I don’t think we have a Toastmasters meeting. I’ll just check for you’ and got onto her walkie talkie to her colleague. I’m going to be late. I haven’t got time for this! Then I realised to my horror - Oh! I’m in the wrong hotel! I was standing in the Cedar Court Hotel, not The Cairn Hotel! ‘Sorry. My mistake!’ I squealed to the receptionist and hurriedly legged it out to the car park.

What did I do next? Look out for my next blog to see whether I went straight home or took a detour!

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