WHY I STARTED A FEMALE-ONLY TOASTMASTER’S CLUB

toastmasters blog post

If you have followed my story, then you’re aware that I chartered an all-female Toastmaster’s club in 2016. Heard of Toastmasters before but not sure what it is? You’re not alone. 😉 When I first heard of Toastmasters, I thought it was something I would find a bunch of grandparents hanging out at, drinking tea and eating cookies at 2 pm… I was SO WRONG!

I had a passion for learning the skills I needed to feel more confident speaking in front of a crowd because that’s what I’d been doing on a small scale. I wanted to improve, speak to larger audiences & motivate others. But public speaking is not easy. I mean, there’s a reason it’s one of the top fears almost everyone has. Nobody wants to look like a fool in front of others, make a mistake or even freeze up + forget your train of thought. Yikes! The thing is, where do you even go to learn or practice these skills as an adult? I know EXACTLY ZERO PEOPLE that wants to jump into a scary situation like this, how about you? That’s when the idea was brought up to me that I start an all-female club where it was a supportive + safe space to learn this stuff.  I did a little research + I was all in.

After a few months of researching, I met with women in my community + informed them about what the Toastmasters International program offered. Just like the women I was talking to, I was shocked to learn that this organization wasn’t just about public speaking. It also helped foster leadership, management + organizational skills. I am proud to say that I have used all of the skills I have learned as a club member in my full-time job numerous times + it also looks super great on a resume! 😉 I had about 70+ women clamoring to join this club that I was now President of + I was a newbie… I knew just the bare minimum to get this thing off the ground. It was a scary experience to commit to, but I had an army of women behind me. I had all of the support I needed + that gave me the encouragement to go for this thing, unafraid to make mistakes or fail.

As it turned out, our club started with about 25 women who paid their dues (Toastmasters costs about $45 every 6 months to be a member) + our club was bumpin’! We met every-other Saturday morning in Downtown Phoenix + I arrived early to set up folding tables, folding chairs, a standing podium, + take our club supplies out of a cardboard box kept in t back closet. Together, we learned to practice our skills as Toastmasters intended. We had a general outline for meetings, followed various portions of the content for the club such as Tabletopics (practicing impromptu speaking), Rehearsed speeches (about 4-5 per meeting (where members choose a topic + craft, practice + deliver it in front of the club), + then our evaluation portion of the meeting where various leaders in the club help us all to improve our meeting skills, watch the timing of speeches, be mindful of how to support others + of course hav a little fun with awards too! 😉 Our club was growing quickly after about 6 months + we needed to make some changes.

Now that our meetings have attracted more women, we have catered scheduled meeting times to accommodate everyone in the club. We still meet 2 times per month, but we now hold our bi-weekly meetings on a Saturday mornings + weekday night each month. We also have so many members wanting to practice their public speaking skills that we incorporated a social aspect for our club called, “Sip + Speaks”. These events are held about every 2-3 months + involve tasty food, refreshing cocktails/mocktails + a little socializing too.  😉 Since our club members are all busy, successful women who juggle being moms, entrepreneurs, full-time working professionals, volunteer work + so much more, it’s important to us to find time to have a little fun while we build up our skills. The next Sip + Speak will be held at my house next week! YAY! 🙂

Long story short, I started this club to support other women who have big dreams like me who desire a supportive environment to grow + thrive. This club makes me feel empowered + I truly enjoy the friendships our members have created as we support one another. After just 15 months, it’s come so far + I cannot wait to see where it takes off! Stay tuned + check out more about this incredible organization at Toastmasters.org.

 

xx,

Ashley

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