Let me take you back to 2011. I was a freshman in college and forced to take an intro to public speaking course. I was socially shy and despised any sort of organized speaking in front of other people, so this course was my nightmare. I got myself through the semester doing the bare minimum, turning a vibrant shade of red each time it was my turn to present, and swore to do everything in my power to avoid putting myself through that sort of inhumane torture again.
Four years later, I graduated college and landed a dream job with BAM after interning with the company for a year and a half. A former colleague mentioned she was in a public speaking club called Toastmasters, to which I responded, “oh cool!” while simultaneously experiencing anxiety-induced flashbacks from my brief public speaking stints in college.
Over the next few years, I realized that my fear of speaking had worsened. It was getting in the way of my work, and I needed to nip the problem in the bud. I thought back to my colleague’s Toastmasters experience, as well as the many times BAM's founder, Beck, had mentioned it to me, and decided to attend a meeting. Despite the nerves that came along with that first meeting, the people were warm and welcoming, which kept me coming back and eventually led me to join the club. It didn’t take long for me to start overcoming my fears and fall deeply in love with this organization.
In January of 2019, we kicked off an informal Toastmasters club at BAM, which Beck cleverly called “BAMToasters.” We would meet for 45 minutes each Friday and run through a shortened version of a standard club meeting—we’d hear three speeches and run through a series of ‘table topics’ questions that help you practice speaking on the fly. Fast forward to present day, and the BAM team has given 136 speeches and answered more than 500 table topics, and I’m currently the president of my chapter at Centre City Toastmasters.
Toastmasters has given me confidence I never knew I had, and the BAM squad loves it just as much as I do. The range of topics and formats we’ve seen at BAMToasters is unmatched. People have opened up about hardships like the death of close family members, celebrated wins like completing a 30-day workout challenge, and dropped knowledge on new topics like the history of the middle finger. We’ve heard team members sing us a new song they’re working on (live!), and play the most epic rap song that ever graced the face of the BAM office.
As a group, we’ve cried, we’ve laughed, we’ve cheered, we’ve learned, and we’ve reminisced. BAMToasters has become a safe haven to get vulnerable, reach outside of your comfort zone, and gain valuable feedback from people with unique perspectives that you can trust. The club helps us work on our public speaking, presentation, and leadership skills, all while having one hell of a good time.
This is just the start of my journey with Toastmasters, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. If you’re considering joining a chapter or creating one within your own organization, feel free to reach out to me or anyone else on the BAM team to learn more about how we’ve made it so magical.
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