I have been a Toastmaster and member of Maidenhead Speakers Club for over 14 years. In that time I have learnt to speak in front of various audiences, my confidence has improved and I have learnt many new speaking skills.

We have an impromptu session where we have the time from leaving our seat and walking to the stage to think of an answer to a question we have just been given. This has improved my ability to respond with an immediate answer dramatically.

As I became more experienced I have mentored new members and this is where I get the most satisfaction. Seeing peoples’ natural abilities and encouraging them to improve is probably the most satisfying aspect of being a Toastmaster.

The unexpected benefits of my membership was the leadership skills I learnt whilst I was running the evening’s event as ‘Toastmaster of the Evening’ and as a committee member in various roles.

As a Toastmaster I am welcome at any other club in the world as a guest and I visit my favourite overseas club in Cape Town whenever I am in town.

To take my speaking skills to a new level three years ago I completed a stand-up comedy course, which culminated in a showcase night in a London club. That was a challenge but I learnt how to write comedy. I also learnt about the first impressions people have of me, which was interesting. I also found I have the ability to communicate directly with a live audience on stage.

Now I am not afraid to give my elevator pitch at networking meetings and I can speak anywhere.

My ability to give feedback in a supportive way has also been enhanced. This makes it easier to deal with subordinates in the workplace and beyond.

I recommend trying Toastmasters to improve your speaking and leadership skills.