Paul Derkach says being a member of the Salmon Arm Toastmasters Club has given him confidence far beyond being able to speak in front of others.-Image credit: Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer

Speaking up

Joining the Salmon Arm Toastmasters Club has given Paul Derkach a new sense of confidence

Paul Derkach is speaking up for himself.

That is not something that would have happened a year-and-a-half ago.

That’s when the 60-year-old Salmon Arm resident joined Toastmasters.

“All my life I had struggled with the fear of getting up in front of people, so I decided I had to overcome this,” he says, pointing out someone had suggested the organization to him many years ago. “So I finally took the plunge and went to a Toastmasters meeting.”

Derkach says his first impression was amazement.

He was given a very warm welcome and invited to introduce himself and, as a guest, invited to speak, in a very relaxed atmosphere.

Now he agrees with an oft-repeated phrase that the club is ‘the community’s best-kept secret.’

“Everyone is encouraged to take part, everyone is encouraging and there for the same reason, so it was really positive and exciting,” he says. “It really encouraged me to want to keep going.”

Derkach says he has come a vey long way, from being really fearful, unable to think on his feet, stressed and nervous, to being very comfortable speaking.

One of Derkach’s main attractions to the group is a weekly session called table talk in which the evening’s table talk master poses five or six questions to different group members.

“You’ve got a minute-and-a-half or two minutes to talk off the top of your head; you don’t know who’s gonna be asked so it keeps you on your toes,” he laughs. “At first my brain was dead. People say they have out-of-body experiences. I have out-of-brain experiences.”

Derkach also enjoys the evaluation that everyone is invited to provide for other members.

As well as the on-the-spot table talk sessions, a few people volunteer every week to make a five- or six-minute speech on a topic of their own choosing.

“And we have an ‘ah, um’ counter,” Derkach laughs, pointing out that at the end of the night, the one who interjects either ah or um in their speeches has to put coins in the club pig at the end of the meeting. “It’s way more fun than I thought.”

Not only has being a member of Toastmasters opened a whole new area of understanding of what it means to lead, Derkatch says it has emboldened him to challenge himself in other areas of his life.

The 60-year was never willing to play his guitar when anyone else was around – that is until he joined Toastmasters.

“I am learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” he says, pointing out he now believes it’s never too late to try something new. “I really feel like it’s helping me to grow in areas I struggled with for so long and, it’s like anything, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.”

The friendly, encouraging group welcomes new members to the regular meetings, which take place at 7 p.m. Thursdays in the community room at Uptown Askew’s. For more information, contact 250-832-2807 or just show up.


@SalmonArm
barbbrouwer@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Silver Creek RCMP search expands north

RCMP were seen collecting evidence three kilometres north of the farm where human remains were found

Family worries about missing Malakwa woman

Discovery of human remains has put family members on edge

A Monday wrap

Read the unfolding story of the discovery of human remains on a Silver Creek farm

Update: Police expand search in North Okanagan-Shuswap

Examination continues in Silver Creek, while another search happens between Salmon Arm and Enderby

Who is Curtis Sagmoen?

The Observer reveals what we know about the man attached to the Silver Creek property where human remains were found

Rally condemns violence, promotes healing

Discovery of human remains and disappearances of women have created tension in the rural community

B.C. NDP convention set for Victoria

Premier, federal leader Jagmeet Singh to add energy

B.C. school trustee calls LGBTQ school program ‘weapon of propaganda’

Chilliwack’s Barry Neufeld published the comments on his Facebook page

B.C. couple hope boat drone becomes first to cross Atlantic

Colin and Julie Angus of Victoria to have drone collect environmental data en route

B.C. casino accused of illegal activity follows rules: operator

B.C. had launched review after concerns about money laundering at River Rock casino in Richmond

Opponents of LGBTQ program to file human rights complaint against Surrey School District

District denied Parents United Canada right to rent Bell Performing Arts Centre for rally next month

Young actors give credence to play about youthful love

Students play integral roles in Shuswap Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet

Ex-employee describes alleged sexual assault by B.C. city councillor

Complainant was a teen during the alleged 1992 incident

Most Read