Saturday, January 1, 2011

From here to there

Published in Toastmaster's District 71 December / January Journal 
District 71 is all UK and Ireland

How I got from the Icebreaker
to Manchester Town hall

I came to live in London when I was 74 years old. The first Toastmaster club I visited was Lewisham Speakers in February 2009.

As I prepared my Icebreaker, I read in the CC manual «each project builds on what you have learned».In the first project, it is proposed to speak about ourselves, and then, «weave the ideas into a story» - I did that by consequence, speech after speech, and as I am 76, it was not so difficult to find a personal story for each project.

When I delivered my icebreaker I fell in love with the audience in spite of my hands trembling with anxiety.

I concentrated all my energy on improving my skills.

I studied the good speeches on the web and at the Toastmaster meetings. I bought the book -‘Power of Personal Storytelling’ (Maguire). giving me advice between others on how to remember my stories. Another book I bought was ‘Improving your storytelling’ (Lipman), and finally a great book from Toastmasters International about Storytelling, which states “the difference between a speaker and a great speaker are personal stories" At this time I got the Storytelling Advanced Manual, and learned by doing project after project. I had finished my CC November 2009.

Wanting to practice and to listen to more personal stories, I attended more then one club, and also discovered 'Spark London', a Personal Storytelling event held monthly at Canal Café Theatre. The first time I went to listen, then Johanna Yates the organizer, invited me to participate.

In November 2009 I began with ‘Now or Never’, a story about how I arrived in London and found myself a home with Toastmasters. During last year I told a few other stories with Spark London at Cafe Canal Theatre, with an audience of sixty each time. I also spoke at the Chocolate Bar and the Soho, Blue Elephant, Blackheath Bakehouse, and so on.

I was always happy to have new experiences and new audiences and to be able to give my speeches in the Toastmasters clubs. I could fit them into one of my advanced Manual Project without any problem or, repeat one of the Storytelling projects.

It was at the Canal Cafe Theatre I first told my story about twenty-four hours in my life when the second world war caught up with me. I was invited to tell that same story as a paid speaker in Manchester Town hall before an audience of 300. Grant Whisky sponsored this event.

I recently finished the CL manual and my first two Advanced Manuals. I have begun work on my Advanced Communicator Silver. The preparation of my story ‘Mistaken Identity’ about how I changed profession at forty-five is ongoing and was given at Canal Cafe theatre on November 1st.

I am also VPE in Lewisham, trying to give a bit of all that Toastmasters gave to me. I do feel that any message we want to pass to others is better done through a tale, in my case mostly personal tales that speak more to the emotions and are best remembered.

Julie Kertesz VPE Lewisham

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