Mike kindly agreed to be interviewed for the blog. Thanks for the time you took to talk to us Mike.
Lucy Brooks: When did you join Toastmasters?
Mike Priest: I Joined in January 2018.
LB: What made you take the first step to go to a meeting, and how soon did you decide to join?
MP: A few years ago, I attended a course to help me control my stammer called the Starfish Project. At this course, several people mentioned Toastmasters and how it had benefited them. At the time I was doing my Duke of Edinburgh Gold award and one of the sections is learning a new skill. So, I decided to join toastmasters.
LB: What were your main goals when you start out on your Toastmasters journey? Which pathway did you choose, and can you remember why you chose it?
MP: My main goal at the start was to improve my public speaking skills and to gain confidence. I wanted to learn about everything else to do with speaking when you’re not speaking and how to structure a speech to make it engaging. Delivering speeches week after week to a room full of people certainly improved my confidence.
I choose the Presentation Mastery pathway as I wanted to improve all my public speaking skills, including speech writing and speech delivery.
LB: You have a stammer which, I have to say, is barely noticeable to me when I listen to your speeches, but can you tell us whether being a member of Toastmasters has helped you deal with it?
MP: It has most definitely helped me. I’ve spent a lot of my life actively avoiding any form of public speaking. Having a place where I can speak with supportive members has really helped me practise
Mike Priest (continued…)
it and improve leaps and bounds. At the start, I wanted to just do a speech to gain more confidence, but now I want to become a better all-around speaker.
LB: What is your most memorable moment at Toastmasters – perhaps a speech you gave, a role you performed, a competition you entered. MP: One of my favourite experiences was giving a speech at our “Speech on the Beach” event over lockdown. I enjoyed delivering my speech to everybody there and got some great feedback too. It was attended by Worthing’s mayor and town crier at the time.
LB: And which is your favourite role?
MP: My favourite role would be an evaluator. I enjoy actively listening to a speech and working out what the speaker can do to improve themselves. When you give the evaluation, it helps other members too. Learning the ability to write and structure a speech in a short time frame is a key skill to practise.
LB: How has the online experience of Toastmasters suited you?
MP: During the lockdown, I moved into a new flat in Haywards Heath so it has really benefited me as I can keep coming to the meetings! I have enjoyed speaking to other toastmasters from across the UK and the world too!
LB: Any other comments?
MP: To any new members, just give it a go. Whether that be a new role or doing your next speech. You have joined the club to practise speaking so just take any opportunity you can!