Written by Casper Shyr, Evaluation Specialist, Primary Health Care

In the spirit of our annual Fraser Friends annual Toastmasters open house, we would like to share a story written by one of our members on his experience and journey with Toastmasters.

As a reserved, quiet person who spends the majority of his time in front of a computer looking at data, delivering presentations and talking in front of a large group of people has never been part of my comfort zone. Even my five-year schooling to get my Ph.D. did not teach me how to speak comfortably, especially when it came to making impromptu speeches.

When I first learned about Toastmasters at Fraser Health, I was skeptical. I had always believed that the basic personality of a person is fixed at birth, and that asking an introvert to be a great public speaker is like asking a mouse to be an elephant. However, I decided to give Toastmasters a try because a friend of mine was a member (and the option to attend for free as guest did not hurt either).

My impression after attending my first session could be summarized in one word: meh. I did not participate in any speeches, but instead sat as a passive observer. I was surprised by how friendly the people were, and that the session was not at all threatening.

I decided to return a second time, this time as a member. This time, I pushed myself to participate in impromptu speaking, an exercise where I was given a random topic to speak about for two to three minutes. This was when I realized the potential of Toastmasters. My fellow members gave me feedback and opportunities for improvement that I had never gotten in my years of schooling.

I had the opportunity to apply what I learned at the recent Fraser Health Patient Experience Conference. As one of the speakers at the conference, my talk was highly technical in nature. Contrary what I would have done a year ago, I did not just stand in front of a projector and read off the slides. I applied Toastmaster techniques to engage with audience, putting myself in center of the room away from the computer, asking questions and interacting with audience throughout the presentation. The result? All eyes were on me. Nobody was looking at their phone, or gazing far off into the distance. At the end of the talk, I got feedback on how wonderful the presentation was. The moment I savoured the most was when one person commented “you are a really good presenter”.

These were words I had never heard before. Toastmasters did not change me from an introvert to an extrovert, and I do not expect it to. What Toastmasters did for me is it allowed me to grow within my introvert self, and to help me to realize my public speaking potential.

I highly recommend Toastmasters to fellow Fraser Health colleagues, even if you feel you are already confident at public speaking and just want an opportunity to meet new, friendly people.

Interested in improving your public speaking skills and meeting new people? Join us at our Toastmasters Open House on Thursday, November 30, 12-1 p.m., at the Fir Room (4th floor) at Central City.


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