SUE Pinker was once so nervous she was afraid to speak her mind, but with the help of Kawana Waters Toastmasters Club, she has turned her life around.
She decided to enroll in a speechcraft course and over the following 20 years, she has developed into a confident public speaker who won the District 69 Toastmaster of the Year Award for 2018/19 and has emceed two weddings for friends and family.
The club is offering a new speechcraft course at the club starting in late February, which Sue will be running. She said Toastmasters had made a huge difference in her life.
"I would get so nervous about speaking - sweaty palms, shakes, I knew I had to do something about it," she said.
"I used to go to P & C meetings and other club meetings and never got up and said anything, even when I wanted to."
"Some people are afraid, but still get up and do it. My fear was a real phobia."
Sue said she had been a very shy person ever since childhood. When she was in her 40s, she decided to finally do something about it.
"I'd known about Toastmasters for a long time, but was too nervous to join."
"It was really frightening walking into that first meeting, but everyone was so supportive."
Toastmasters is open to anyone - from professionals who wanted to improve their public speaking skills for their jobs, to people who were afraid of public speaking and retirees looking for new ways to keep their minds active.
Learning resources are available online and in paper form and new members can learn at their own pace.
"Some people take 10 years to get to a certain level, some take one. It's up to you."
She said speechcraft courses provided a great opportunity to learn a bit about what being a Toastmaster was like before deciding on whether to join the group.
The course will provide the opportunity to learn the basics of writing and presenting short speeches, evaluating yourself and others, answering impromptu questions, controlling nerves, how to use body language and voice control.
Sue encouraged anyone who was curious to come along and give the course a try.
"Now I'm a lot more confident if I want to voice my opinion or speak about things and my biggest circle of friends is from Toastmasters," she said..
"I always admired people who could speak in public and thought 'I wish I could do that.' Now I can."
.The course will take place at Kawana Guides Hut over five sessions on February 20, March 5, March 19, April 2 and April 16, starting each day at 9.15am and finishing at 11.30am.
For details email firstname.lastname@example.org.