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Recipe for Success: My journey to ACS and CL by Indira Kyilybayeva

I started my toastmaster journey in June 2014 when I delivered my ice-breaking speech. Standing next to the lectern, I couldn’t imagine how Toastmasters club would transform my life in less that two years. Today I would like to share my experience with the readers of this amazing blog (thanks PR team for this initiative!)

I moved to Astana in October 2013. Desperate for new friends, I started to explore new opportunities which Astana offered to me. That’s how I came across ATC. I visited ATC on 8th of February 2014, but found courage to deliver my first speech only 4 months later!

Today I am a proud ACS and CL which stands for advanced communication silver and competent leadership respectively. It means that I delivered 30 speeches and completed 10 leadership projects.

My journey to ACS

The first ten speeches made me extremely excited (from CC manual¹)! I am a bookworm and love to share with friends what I learnt from books I had read. Usually, my audience consists of my dear husband, my close friends and social media followers. And now I discovered that I could share exciting things with new people who are eager to hear me! yay! )) Most speeches from CC manual were devoted to some book. For example, CC#2 – Defining decade, CC#3 – Food rules, CC#4 – Brain rules, CC#8 – The Honest Truth about Dishonesty, in CC#9 I used facts from John Maxwell’s book on leadership, in CC#10 – from Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping point.
I love reading so I never run out of ideas for my speeches :)

As for advanced manuals, I chose the following:
– Entertaining speaker – because some people at ATC said that my serious speeches sometimes made them cry and I wanted to learn new public speaking techniques
– Storytelling – one of the most interesting manuals to prepare and to listen to
– Technical presentations – very useful for work
– Speeches by management – I am being a career girl, couldn’t resist the temptation 😉

Right now I am working on Interpretive reading and Speaking to inform manuals.
Upon completion of these two manuals, I will receive advanced communication gold award. That will be le fin of my communication track.

From all 35+ speeches I performed my last one from CC is the most valuable for me. Title was Joy Thief and the speech supposed to inspire the audience to stop comparing their lives with the lives of others as this comparison steals all the joy and happiness. 


How I prepare to my speeches

On average I deliver 2 projects per month (current ATC rules do not allow to perform more). The hardest part is topic selection, then I just prepare PPT if necessary and rehearse several times. I never write scripts (actually I did it only twice – with my ice breaking speech and with CC#10 because I was a contest participant and my team shared texts to get opinion from each other). Probably, some find writing a script a useful and important part of preparation but it never worked for me. On the other hand, during rehearsal I polish structure, think out new arguments and ideas. It also makes a big difference when it comes to time management.

Usually I start preparation well in advance, but sometimes I finish doing PPT just one hour before the meeting))) But I never skip rehearsal. I heard that on average it takes one hour of rehearsal time for every minute of speech for TED talk. It’s ideal, of course. It takes 30-60 minutes for me, overall, but it’s enough to prepare 7-10 minutes speech.

My journey to CL

Now let’s talk about CL².
At first I found it useless – indeed, how one could become a better leader by being a general evaluator, let alone, an ah-counter??
But then I decided to give it a try. It turned out that my three most exciting projects started as a part of CL!
First, I was an editor-in-chief of August newsletter³. Totally new experience for me. I appreciate that I learnt new skills (like inserting a video clip into a microsoft word doc!)
Second, the whole new Samruk-Kazyna toastmasters club* was born due to a leadership project of a Membership campaign!
Third, I was honored to organise speech contest which became one of the brightest meetings of 2015 year. Everyone got some prize and most importantly everyone was cheered up by this blissful event. I even received a certificate for organising the best speech contest of the year!
Understanding the importance of CL was the hardest part, everything else was easy! I highly encourage fellow toastmasters not to underestimate this first ten leadership project. After all, Toastmasters is all about leadership!Some people think that ATC is a bunch of nerds. Well, I definitely am and never ashamed to admit it)) Mind you we have normal people around us, though nerdic type prevails – how else would you explain that the most visited social event is Что?Где?Когда? )))
However, ATC is not only about learning, but also about making new friends, sharing ideas, helping each other, starting new projects together, growing professionally and becoming a better version of yourself. On top of that, it’s sooooo much fun!
You definitely need to be part of our big Toastmasters family! 😉

Editor notes:

¹ At Toastmasters the members have two tracks they can and should follow: Communication and Leadership Tracks. Here, Indira shares her experience on doing the first track, communication. Indira has completed her Competent Communicator (performed first 10 speeches from CC manual), Advanced Communicator Bronze (performed the other 10 speeches from two advanced manuals of her choice) and Advanced Communicator Silver (the other 10 speeches from two advanced manuals). Now, Indira has started to give speeches from two advanced manuals and after completing them, she will receive Advanced Communicator Gold. (more information on Resources).
² CL stands for Competent Leadership. It is the first manual to complete from a Leadership Track. As CC it has 10 projects that will help to improve the member’s leadership skills. After CL, Indira can and is working on her Advanced Leader Bronze. (more information on Resources).
³ From February, 1st as a club we do not make newsletters and have started this blog, instead.
* Samruk-Kazyna toastmasters club – is a new and soon-to-become an affilicated club of Toastmasters International. For more information on local clubs follow this link.