December 8, 2011

Lessons From One Year In Toastmasters

by Promod Sharma, President 2011-2012

Happy anniversary! I joined Goodyear Toastmasters exactly one year ago. The benefits exceeded my expectations.

I wasn't very interested in giving speeches but have finished the first seven in the Competent Communicator manual. I wasn’t interested in leadership, which (I think) I already know. I certainly had no intentions of becoming a club officer.

Why Join?

My main interest was in pre-testing important new presentations. That’s what I did for
  1. Building Trust With Social Media for CALU in May
  2. Building Trust With Blogging for Word11 in August and
  3. How To Turbocharge Your Club With Social Media last month (co-presented with Jonathan Holowka at the District 60 Toastmasters Conference; his post)
This approach worked well.


I wanted to experiment with answering audience questions. This involves having a topic that engages the attendees and thinking quickly (like impromptu speaking but about a subject you know).

I was comfortable with Q&A with my former audiences of accountants, lawyers, investment advisors and insurance advisors. I wanted to experiment with general audiences.

360 Degree Feedback

Feedback makes us better. Since we each react differently, I wanted group feedback as often as possible. I don't know of a better place than Toastmasters for this (results will vary by club). The comments are very helpful and sometimes contradictory. For one speech, someone said I was relying on notes too much and someone else thought I was speaking from memory.


The scariest role for me was being the Timer. That involves keeping track of the key sections of the meeting. I found there were "too many moving parts". That was distracting. After my second time, I felt comfortable.

As timer, you become more attuned to the value of every second. It's surprising how long and how short 60 seconds is.

Free Prize

Are there things you'd like to do but never thought you could? Impromptu speaking is on my list. Or was. Thanks to Table Topics, I feel comfortable speaking without preparation. That's a wonderful feeling.

In the past, I would need to jot down notes, which takes away from the spontaneity. Now I can talk with ease. That practice helped when I was interviewed by the Toronto Star in March and The Globe and Mail a few weeks ago.


What you get out of Toastmasters depends on your goals, what you put in, and your club environment. You could easily come out with more than you ever imagined. And help others feel that too.

You’ll find more than you want to know about Promod with a Google search.


  1. Very good post Promod.
    Congratulations on the One Year Anniversary.

  2. Congratulations on your one year milestone at Goodyear Toastmasters. I appreciate all the help you provided me on social media. Looking forward to more posts on your social media and Toastmaster journey.