Adam originally came to Toastmasters in the summer of 2010. He was preparing for a best man's speech that October so visited the club as a guest and took part in table topics (the impromptu speaking part of the evening) and felt he did pretty well.
At that point I decided Toastmasters wouldn't benefit me any further in terms of preparing for the speech. With the aid of a little bit of Dutch courage on the day I delivered a perfectly decent speech and was thanked for my efforts.
Fast forward to June 2011. The company Adam worked for went bust at the height of the recession and in the search for work he found himself with one day's notice for a job interview. Part of the interview was a 10 minute presentation about customer service.
My presentation was absolutely horrendous. It went from bad to worse and wound up lasting about 22 minutes. I knew when I left the interview that I hadn't got the job. Driving home, I reflected on what had happened. It dawned on me that if I had been a fully paid up and active member of Toastmasters for the previous 11 months I would have probably acquired the skills and confidence to deliver a really solid presentation in the interview which could have potentially lead to a job offer.
Around that time the club was contacting past guests asking if they would consider coming back to the club. Adam had already made up his mind. "I went along to the very next session and paid my membership subscription immediately."
So what happened next?
Since joining I've found that my writing skills have improved as much as my speaking skills, and that I am much more confident when speaking to groups of people. I think one of the biggest things overlooked in terms of the benefits of Toastmasters is how much it can help you in situations where you are speaking to just two or three people. It's not all about training to speak in front of a crowd of hundreds or thousands.
The thing that has become incredibly apparent to me in the last two years is that the ability to communicate with confidence and clarity is one that will benefit anybody, regardless of what they do for a living. It's also very much a perishable skill, and something that you can lose if you don't practice regularly.
Known in the club for his humorous anecdotes and masterful use of space while speaking, last year Adam completed the Competent Communicator manual - the first speaking course that all members work through. However, he still thinks there's more he can learn and he has now begun the first stage of Toastmasters' advanced speaker programme.