Chatham-Kent Toastmasters a Fun Experience

It all began six months ago when I finally dared to attend a Toastmasters club meeting in Toronto (club #911145/Bay & Adelaide Speakers Club). I learned about Toastmasters from my brother-in-law Mohammad Meimandi who happens to be my best friend too. Mohammad was a member at the time. He is still an active member. He suggested that the club could help me improve my public speaking skills. A trip to Toronto leads to a visit to their club. It was love at first sight. Members from every walk of life were involved in different activities of the meeting. The speeches were exciting. The crowd was friendly, and some of the members were amazingly skillful.

For those of you who are not familiar with Toastmasters, I should mention that Toastmasters International is a not-for-profit organization that helps the members enhance their public speaking and leadership skills. Every Toastmasters club consists of some members who take different roles voluntarily. The roles help them enhance their personal skills and conduct the club business. They deliver prepared speeches, impromptu speeches (off-the-cuff speeches),  evaluate other speeches, conduct table topics (impromptu speaking section of the meetings), chair the meetings, run competitions at the club or higher levels, and so on. It is an effective and fun way to improve yourself.

When I got back home to Chatham, I thought that I need to find our own club. I was hesitant, though. The majority of the Chatham population are native speakers. I was worried that I might not benefit from a group whose mother tongue language is English. They do not face the same problems that I face after all. I have limited vocabulary, struggle with correct grammatical rules, and do not pronounce every word correctly. My accent is also different. I was worried that they might pull my legs because of my accent.

I soon proved to be wrong. I googled “Chatham-Kent Toastmasters” and found the club’s website. I then contacted the president of the club Louise Stallaert. She was very friendly. She invited me to attend an upcoming meeting. She explained that I could attend up to three of the meetings as a guest. She also mentioned that their meetings occur at the GreenField Ethanol plant board room every Monday from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

I attended the meeting with a friend Seyed Hajimirza the next Monday. We were greeted warmly by Pat Zimmer, the former president of the club and Louise Stallaert. Other members were also amiable. To my surprise, the mother tongue language of some members was not English. That was a relief for sure.

Toast Masters InternationalI was convinced to join and actually signed up the very next week as a member. I have had many achievements since then. I got appointed as the Vice President of Education for our Toastmasters club (#608382)*. I also managed to complete all of the speeches – 10 to be exact – of the “Competent Communicator” manual and was awarded the CC certificate. I am currently on my way to get my “Competent Leadership” and “Advanced Communicator Bronze” certificates. This has been a great experience for me. I am now a lot more confident in public speaking. I can speak in front of many people with rare uses of Ah’s and Um’s and filler words. I have also learned a lot of new words and phrases from my fellow Toastmasters.

I want to finish this post by thanking my fellow Toastmasters, who helped me improve my communication, public speaking, networking, and leadership skills. It is because of you that I joined “Cultural Coalition of Chatham-Kent” as a board member. It is because of you that I feel more welcome in our small cozy, charming Chatham.

If you are a Chatham-Kent resident and would like to know more about Toastmasters, you have up to three clubs to choose from.

  • Chatham-Kent club – Mondays 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
  • Chatham on the Thames club – Thursdays 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
  • Union Gas club (Union Gas employees only)

You may attend any of the clubs as a guest up to three times. If you need more information about any of these clubs or Toastmasters as a whole, leave a comment below. I will provide you with further information. You may alternatively click here for contact information of Chatham-Kent clubs.

Don’t hesitate! This is a great opportunity that you can’t afford to miss.

 

* July 2010 – I am currently acting as the Vice President of Public Relations for our club.

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Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He also teaches immigration courses at Ashton College in Vancouver, Canada. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of ICCRC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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