When I was a relatively new member, I was cajoled into representing our club at an Area Contest. No one was surprised when I did not win, but I was amazed at my own reaction to the experience. Because I was speaking to a larger group, and mostly strangers, I found myself acting differently from club meetings. In my case, gestures were larger and wilder ( I am petite, did I think they wouldn't see me?), and I didn't exactly project my voice...I yelled. The experience taught me about my response to a real audience, and what else needed work.

That was then. This is now. I am in demand as a speaker both in and out of Toastmasters. Last week I spoke to NASA engineers at J.P.L. about non-verbal communication, and they called it an "entertaining and distinguished presentation" from which they learned a lot. I am teaching rocket scientists!

That first competition was not much fun for me, but it certainly was a worthwhile growing experience. One can't improve without taking chances on finding out what needs improvement.

As the commercials say - "Just Do It!"

Pat Stewart DTM LGET Los Angeles Club

About a year ago I was in a fairly deep depression which was annoying me, mainly because I did not know why I was depressed. I decided that one thing that might help me was to be more active in society. I joined Toastmasters for a number of reasons, including a wish to be more involved, the desire to be more confident in certain situations which were troubling me, and as a recognition of my prior enjoyment of public speaking situations.

I have completed 5 speeches (2 months short of a years membership) and have already noticed an increased ability in my speaking skilled, increased confidence, and a decrease in my shyness towards strangers. I am more able to speak in situations which were troubling me.

I am now enjoying life a lot more than I was, and do believe that membership in toastmasters been a real positive step, and is worth every cent of the fees charged.

Jason Monson Pegasus Toastmasters, Christchurch New Zealand; District 72

Six years ago (2/90), I joined Toastmasters to help me "come out of myself" and learn to deal with my fellow human beings in more positive and constructive ways. Thanks to Toastmasters, my self-esteem has increased, I've learned to be a better leader through service as a Club officer, Area Governor, and Division Governor, and I've made more friends than I've ever imagined I could.

To me, Toastmasters is simply a "lesson in life" that *everyone* should take advantage of.

Steve Williams, DTM