Interview with Chevening Scholar, Toastmaster Stephanie Edwards
Updated: Dec 5, 2021
You were a guest at Trailblazers Toastmasters Club in Jamaica in 2016 and became a member in 2017, what was the impetus for becoming a member?
It was a co-worker who introduced me to the club. I stopped by to see what the meeting was about and I was very impressed with the feedback that was given to the speakers. This showed me the importance of developing my leadership and communication skills. In essence, I became a member just like that.
How has joining the club helped you to hone your leadership and communication skills?
The knowledge and experience gained in executing the projects in Pathways are applicable to the real world. Toastmasters has assisted me to become a better leader. My abilities have been sharpened and I am more persuasive and confident when delivering speeches. I learned how to structure a presentation, incorporate tone and body language in order to engage my audience.
Having applied for the Chevening scholarship you had to undertake an interview as part of the process, has being a Toastmaster helped you to prepare for that interview?
There are two things that assisted me. Firstly, being a Toastmaster allowed me to gain confidence and combat the fear of an interview. The practice of standing in front of an audience at Trailblazers Toastmasters Club has helped me to reduce my fear of being interviewed and focus on the interviewer rather than struggling to come up with answers to the questions.
Secondly, learning to think on my feet. Being a Toastmaster has helped me to practice my delivery of responses in a short time frame and quell my nerves, as you are required to research and prepare speeches. Having completed a few speeches at the club, I was not fearful of the interview.
What can you take with you from Toastmasters on your journey as a scholar at East Anglia, Norwich, England?
Toastmasters is an institution which challenges us to be a better version of ourselves. It is not limited to the club setting, but it is an attitude that we carry with us wherever we go, including my time at the University of East Anglia. The skills and knowledge make you more comfortable when receiving feedback. I will take all of the skills and experiences that I have acquired wherever I go.
What is the message that you want to deliver to young Toastmasters or anyone who has not become a member of a Toastmasters club?
My message will be, if you aspire to become an excellent leader or communicator, if you want to build confidence or expand your network, then membership in a Toastmasters club will give you the skills to make it a reality. Being a Toastmaster means making a commitment to self-development. Even as an Attorney when I gave my first speech, I was shy. Thereafter it was not bad as you become comfortable speaking before an audience, not just at Trailblazers.
What would be your message to any young person who may be aspiring to earn a scholarship?
Two things. Firstly, pray hard and go for it. Age does not matter. Secondly, become a member of a Toastmasters club. There are so many clubs around the world and a club is a safe place to practice public speaking as it sharpens your leadership skills. These skills are necessary and transferable to anyone in pursuit of a scholarship especially at the interview stage. Build the foundation, you will get used to the nerves and it would be similar to delivering a speech at your club. The interview is very similar to impromptu speaking.
Please see video recording of interview: