Everyone has a story to tell. It might be the story of our career path to date that will help us land that dream job at an interview, a pitch to investors of our product or even a speech at a wedding.

Some of us are terrified of standing up speaking in public, others are not afraid, but don’t always manage to get the point across.

We all have a story to tell, and if you are interested in improving your communication and leadership skills, then toastmasters might be what you are looking for. Like sport or music, skills are best developed over time with lots of practice.

Founded in 1924, Toastmasters has served over four million people, and today the organization serves over 357,000 members in 143 countries, through its 16,600 member clubs. In Mayo, there are now four clubs, Westport, Ballina, Castlebar and a new advanced club in Claremorris.

Castlebar Toastmasters is now in its fourth year and meets every fortnight on Tuesday evenings at the Mayo Education Centre. Guests are welcome to come and attend one or two meetings and then have the option to become a member of the club and become part of Toastmaster International with access to the Pathways Learning programme.

At every meeting, members have an opportunity to practice impromptu speaking at the table topics session or may deliver a scheduled prepared speech on any topic. Speeches are timed and evaluated by fellow members of the club and this is one of the real benefits of community-based toastmasters clubs.

Along with communication, Toastmasters’ clubs have a strong focus on leadership development. Every meeting is run by a different team who take on roles such as toastmaster of the evening who chairs meeting, timekeeper and evaluators.

For many of the club members, being part of the club has been a great asset as part of their own continuous professional development, and many have used the skills learned to speak at conferences or on radio and TV.

Tom Fahy was the Club President in 2019. As a business owner, Tom appreciates the benefits of Toastmasters, though initially he was hesitant.

“A very good friend told me of the many benefits Toastmasters would offer me a long time ago. My regret is that I did not act on his advice back then. After years of avoiding any situation that would involve addressing an audience, shuffling my wedding meal about my plate in panic and failing to push sales opportunities with the positivity required. I contacted our neighbouring Toastmasters in October 2013 and nervously went to their next meeting, not knowing what to expect. On arrival there, the warm and welcoming greetings immediately put me at ease. I was told I did not need to speak which was a huge relief. The stories of different personal development from people I spoke with on the evening convinced me that Toastmasters had so much to offer me besides public speaking”

If you want to be able to ‘tell your story,’ If you feel you need to ‘find your voice,’ then come along to our first meeting of the 2019/2020 season. The club meets at the Mayo Education Centre which is right beside GMIT.

More information is available on the club website: https://castlebartoastmasters.com or by contacting Bernard Joyce President (087) 2254698