In 2013 it finally happened. After years of being uncomfortable and nervous about speaking in front of groups, especially at work, my biggest fear finally came to pass: I was singled out by my management and called up in front of no less than twenty of my co-workers, then told to give them all my best sales pitch on a completely random topic pulled out of a brown paper bag.
Moments before I had been sitting in the audience, trying not to make eye contact with my boss, feeling that inevitable sinking sensation in my stomach along with an ever- growing sense of dread.
When I'd heard my name called, I'd instantly been trapped in a nightmare I knew I could not wake up from. I'd stood up and stumbled towards the front of the room, noticing immediately that I felt dizzy, and my hands had gone almost completely numb.
As I reached into the brown paper bag, pulled out and read my topic, my wits completely deserted me. I crashed and burned like I never had before, and sat back down, hanging my head in shame. My boss approached me after the end of the meeting and asked me if I'd ever heard of Toastmasters.
Thanks to Toastmasters, that day is just a distant memory for me. When I stand up in front of an audience now, I am empowered and filled with confidence, relishing the opportunity to entertain, educate, and have my voice heard rather than being just another face in the crowd.
However, all that pales in comparison to the wealth of leadership experience I have garnered over the years through Toastmasters. Before I never saw myself as a leader. By contrast, I now gravitate towards executive-level leadership opportunities, with the latest being my role here as President of Encinitas Toastmasters. This is my way of giving back to a community that has done so much for me.
To our Guests: All you need is the courage to walk through our doors. Coming to one of our meetings is the first step you will take on an amazing journey of personal growth, life- changing empowerment, and finding a lasting fellowship with some of the most remarkable people you will ever know.
To our Members: It is an honor to have your faith and support in my leadership. Thank you for this opportunity to realize the vision we all share for our club: “To be a place of deep culture and strong community, where aspiring speakers and leaders come to learn, and great orators and proven pioneers stay to grow and share their wisdom.”
With Immense Gratitude,
Robert W. Perry, ACS, ALS