Now We’re Talking

Now We’re Talking

The Club’s band of Toastmasters offers warm words and support to those looking to raise their public-speaking game.

I was never shy about speaking in front of people, but I knew that I was far from a good speaker. I wanted to change that.

So when I saw the flyer in my Club welcome pack, my interest was piqued.

Keen to find out more, I attended my first Toastmasters meeting soon after. It has proved to be one of the most enjoyable and useful activities for me at the Club.

For nearly a century, Toastmasters International has been helping people become more confident speakers, communicators and leaders. It is a nonprofit organization with more than 16,200 chapters around the world. The TAC Toastmasters Club is one such chapter.

While I retired from investment banking a decade ago, I am now involved in different businesses, projects and associations. And since being alive means having to communicate, I know that communicating well can enable you to find success in whatever it is you want to achieve.

What particularly appeals to me about Toastmasters is its method of learning. There are no teachers, coaches or instructors, just fellow participants keen to improve themselves and help one another.

Each of our twice-monthly lunch meetings contains a mix of prepared and impromptu speeches. Being able to share your thoughts coherently on the spot and deliver an engaging presentation are both indispensable skills.

We offer one another instant and constructive feedback. We all have a lot to give and we don’t let it go to waste. I receive an enormous amount of unexpected inspiration from the people and stories shared during our meetings.

The regular influx of new members to our club means fresh ideas and perspectives. There is real diversity among the group as well, from doctors and bankers to entrepreneurs and students, with women and men of all ages and nationalities. The one thing we have in common is that we are Members of Tokyo American Club.

The social aspect of the group shouldn’t be overlooked, either. The “Toasties” are a friendly bunch. Bowling, dinners, drinks and informal chats over coffee are all part of it. It’s a community.

Only a year after I joined, I was elected president of our club. When an opportunity comes knocking, I raise my hand, especially when I am in doubt. I wasn’t going to put myself forward as a candidate but, when asked, I knew that I should help to make Toastmasters even better.

Amid the pandemic-induced uncertainty and the resulting safety measures, we have managed to continue with our regular meetings. The hybrid format allows people to participate either in person or via webcam from their homes.

The setup has worked out great and has enabled Toastmasters to not only survive but thrive. I’ll toast to that!

Stefan Nilsson is a member of the TAC Toastmasters Club and the Club’s Membership Committee.

Words: Stefan Nilsson
Image: Yuuki Ide