Saturday, 6 March 2010

Toastmaster Training, Day 1

On the road to Essex by 8am, not bad going for me, considering I intended to leave at 7.30am! As I sailed past Heathrow (yes, I really sailed, the traffic was flowing beautifully) a 747 passed in front of me and watching it seemingly stapled to the blue sky I was filled with such joy and excitement that brings true meaning to the phrase 'my cup overflows...' I felt immense gratitude for the wonderful man at home looking after my children and who encourages me to fly daily, for my husband Peter who let me go, and I wonder what I have done to deserve such happiness and fulfilment.

Then I hit the traffic at Junction 18 *lol* Even that wasn't a problem, really. I stopped at the South Mimms services and enjoyed a tea and toastie with the businessmen before finally arriving around 10am at the farmhouse near Chelmsford in Essex where my training was to be held.

A warm welcome from Richard and the first installment of a bottomless cup of tea from Lindsay commenced my morning of education in the art of the professional toastmaster. We sat on comfortable couches and Richard and I discussed some of the history of the profession of toastmasters, touching on Richard 'Beau' Nash of Georgian Bath, William Nightsmith, the first toastmaster to don the distinctive red tailcoat and moving on to matters of protocol and ettiquette. Then Richard showed me a dvd of a function he served at a few years ago and pointed out the little things he does that make this most special of days in the life of two people who have decided to dedicate themselves to each other. I was in awe of all the things he does, but left in no doubt at all that this is the career for me!

Lunchtime came upon us quickly so we made our way to a local venue, where we met David Court, Master Photographer. David was delightful company and so generous with his time and advice. From him I learned two very important things - never undervalue yourself, and find out what it is that makes you different from everyone else. The first is almost completely counter to everything most people are brought up to believe, perhaps women more than most, but it's something that I'm willing to change! The second is going to be quite a challenge. Of course, I will stand out as a lady toastmaster, but there will gradually be more ladies joining the profession and there has to be something more than that. I'm sure I'll find something. At the moment, I can help clients with speech-giving, I intend to have some more dancing lessons so I can offer help with that, I can sing and I'm improving my public speaking skills all the time. Who knows what more I can offer, I'm open to anything.

David asked me why I am becoming a toastmaster and the simple answer is this: it's a profession that brings together all the skills I'm very good at and all the hobbies I love to do. I can't think of a better job to have, and I hope I never retire! I'm looking forward to meeting many different people from all over the country and from all walks of life.

My first business lunch ended at about 3.30pm, and Richard took me back to the farmhouse where we watched a dvd of the toastmaster from hell. It was so encouraging, not only because I was able to spot easily the things he was doing that were so wrong, things I would never dream of doing. I was greatly encouraged by the dvd, because I thought if this toastmaster of many years' experience, could get work, I will certainly hit the ground running, because on my worst day I know I will be better than that guy!

By 5.30pm I was yawning. The day had been full of fun, information of course and affirmations that this career is indeed the one for me. I'm looking forward to my next session with much anticipation and excitement.

The highlight of the day was definitely putting on the uniform of the professional toastmaster for the first time. Of course it was borrowed, but I felt fabulous in it. Do check out my website, it's only very basic, but it's a start!

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