Changing My Own Little Corner of the World

Originally published By Angela Louie, DTM

Many people join Toastmasters to improve their performance at work. That was never my goal. But looking back over 16 years in Toastmasters, I can definitely say that it has had a significant impact on my work and my career.

Being a shy and rather quiet employee, I would often sit at the lunch table and listen to my co-workers talk about their weekends, families and activities. I never ventured to tell any of my own stories. Who would listen? I didn’t have anything exciting to share. But one lunch hour, after having been a Toastmaster for 6 months, I took a deep breath and started telling a story. I was watching the faces for tell-tale signs of boredom, disinterest or interruptions with their own stories. I was truly surprised when not only did I have everyone’s attention but I actually finished a story right to the end. That was the day that I knew Toastmasters had made a difference in my life, my work life.

My whirlwind year of contest wins in 2005 gave me another quantum surge of confidence I never experienced before. I now knew beyond any doubt that I was as good as anybody at work. I could convey ideas. I could lead and shape a meeting. This confidence helped me to share some exciting new ideas I had come across with my boss and his boss. They opened the doors for me to share them with the planning committee, the management team and ultimately to develop my own staff training program. Now we are offering 3 day workshops several times a year and other health authorities have invited me to deliver them to their staff.

My work is in the mental health field, helping staff to really understand that we are not there just to take care of people but that we are there to help people grow, to become full and contributing citizens in our community. I never would have imagined that I would have had the courage to push my ideas, to challenge people to move from the status quo. But for me it’s more than just speaking and presenting. It’s about changing the world, my own little corner of the world. It’s about changing the way people think and how they feel. And ultimately it’s about inspiring people to do great things. Toastmasters has done this for me. It’s been a huge part of my growth and my work.

What has Toastmasters done for you?