Author Archives: Melissa Maher

2016-2017 Club Officers

Memphis Advanced Toastmasters is pleased to announce this years club officers.

President ~ Cynthia Bardwell
VP-E ~ Bob Antonie / George Jones
VP-M ~ Peter Bloom
VP-PR ~ Chris Dillard / John Cregger
Secretary ~ Shilo Satran
Treasurer ~ David M. Townley, DTM
Sergeant at Arms ~ Denise Bloom

We look forward to a GREAT year in 2016-2017! Please congratulate these Toastmasters and cheer them on to the best year for Memphis Advanced ever!!


Ravi Kumar

I’m Ravi Kumar, and this is my story of how I became a better communicator and a better version of me. As I was the youngest of seven in the family, I was pampered, and did not get to do much chores at home. My mommy and my sisters cooked for me. When I moved to a different city and tried to be independent, I struggled, I struggled to cook, even to toast a bread. It taught me that in order for me to succeed, someone else had to suffer. From that point on, I faced my predicament with courage and overcame many challenges in acquiring different skills at different times.

My parents mentioned to me at several occasion that I would become a very good public speaker one day, for the reason that I was gifted with the body language and had natural penchant for learning and picking up new languages. Being born and brought up in the multi-lingual and multi-cultural southern part of India, I had to switch between languages to talk to friends who speak different languages. As a software engineer and entrepreneur I travelled places and countries before I settled in the united states. I had the dream and passion for being an entrepreneur here in the United States, But everything came to a grounding halt when my father passed away in 2008. I was devastated and deeply depressed since then. And then my mother died in 2010. It was a total shock for me and I went into total silence. These two were my role models and now they are gone. Parents thought, I would be better off working for a company than doing my own business due to my father’s repeated failure in business. Couple of years I did not associate with friends and family, and avoided any tasks that would require lot’s of talking. I figured out I stutter when I spoke after broke my silence in 2012. I felt like I lost my language, and the communication skills. I could not even talk in my native language with family and friends without stuttering.

And so, I decided that it was time for change. My soul has waited long enough and my body has borne enough stress this long. It was enough that I grope in the darkness looking for my key. Time to let go of what others thought was best for me, to hold on to what really brings out the best in me, but the lack of communication skills kept me down. I read several ‘How to” books to improve my communication and regain my confidence, but with no success.

One of my friends suggested me that I would do well If I went to toastmasters. After a few months, I did a quick search on the YouTube about communication tips, and surprisingly came to find out, lots of people attributed their success to Toastmasters. Finally, I tried to give it a try, and joined Toastmasters in November of 2012. I never regretted a bit since then.

I can confidently tell now that, Toastmasters changed my life forever. I got my competent communicator award just recently and I am determined to pursue the Distinguished Toastmaster Award. As a result, I begun see myself confidently communicating with family, friends and business partners, and feel the sense of pride in knowing I can speak at any occasion without much preparation, and enjoy the approving comments people make when they recognize the new level of mastering in me.

Toastmasters is the place to go!


A Mission and a Means

If you told me two years ago that I would be where I am today, I would have laughed. I am a US Army veteran and I have PTSD. Something as mundane as walking into a drug store and asking one of the employees a question would have me in a cold sweat, heart pounding, and stuttering. Yes, stuttering.

2013-10-01 21.23.03In June 2012, I was partnered with a service dog. Chauncey has changed my life. In the year that followed, I was invited to participate in many events. I have spoken to civic groups and fundraisers. I have attended rallies to spread awareness of what service dogs can do for veterans with PTSD. In July 2013 I was invited to speak at a fundraiser for K9s for Warriors in Nashville, Tennessee. I hadn’t felt so alive and invigorated as I did when I was on that stage speaking about something so near and dear to me. It was that day, that specific incident that emboldened me to take the steps I would need to take to become a professional speaker. In August 2013, I joined Memphis Advanced Toastmasters. In the last five months, I have completed my Competent Communicator and I am very close to completing my Competent Leader. My goal is to achieve my Distinguished Toastmaster by August 2015. I have competed in the Humorous Speech contest and made all the way to District, where I placed third.

Looking back, I can’t imagine life without Chauncey and my Toastmasters family. You don’t have to yearn to be a professional speaker to benefit from Toastmasters. The camaraderie, confidence, and leadership skills you will gain are something you will not find anywhere else. K9s for Warriors and Memphis Advanced Toastmasters have changed my life. One has given me a mission and the other is giving me the means and opportunity to fulfill it.

A New beginning

Now that we are half way through 2016, have you thought about where you want to be by the end of this year? Do you want a promotion? Are your communication skills helping your career or hindering it? Could you improve your confidence in your business and personal conversations?

Memphis Advanced Toastmasters can help you with all these things and more. Through Toastmasters you can learn not only communication but leadership skills in a warm, friendly environment. A Memphis Advanced Toastmasters Club meeting isn’t anything like that speech class you took in school. There are no grades or final exams. Instead you will find a lively group of welcoming adults from various professions and walks of life. You will find helpful mentors and motivating challenges that will have you improving your skills in a relatively painless and definitely entertaining environment.

How Does It Work?

A Toastmasters meeting is a learn-by-doing workshop in which participants hone their speaking and leadership skills in a no-pressure atmosphere. There is no instructor in a Toastmasters meeting. Instead, members evaluate one another’s presentations. This feedback process is a key part of the program’s success. Meeting participants also give impromptu talks on assigned topics, conduct meetings and develop skills related to timekeeping, grammar and parliamentary procedure. Members learn communication skills by working in the Competent Communication manual, a series of 10 self-paced speaking assignments designed to instill a basic foundation in public speaking.

~ Toastmasters International

Come by and visit during a meeting and see for yourself. This is NOT your speech class. Memphis Advanced Toastmasters is a supportive, entertaining, and motivating group of individuals who are striving to improve their leadership and communication skills. Come check us out! We meet at the IHOP on Sycamore View Road, Memphis (See map on right).

We look forward to meeting you!


Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

From our family to yours, may you have a very blessed holiday season and the brightest of new years! Treasure your relationships and never take tomorrow for granted!


Speaking Mistakes to Avoid

When speaking, do you rely too heavily on notes? Do you avoid eye contact? Learn how to steer clear of common mistakes that might alienate an audience.


How to Give a Toast

Life is full of special occasions; someday you may be called on to say a few relevant words or give a formal toast. If you’re not well prepared, your best intentions can fall flat. Learn what to do — and what not to do — to make the most of the moment.

Job Interviews

Check out these time-tested Toastmasters tips that will help you to interview with confidence through focused listening, articulate responses and effective body language. Following these tips will empower you to impress others.


Managing Fear

Are you afraid of the unknown? Does the fear of failure send you running for the hills? Understanding anxiety, as well as how to control its physical manifestations, will help make you a more confident public speaker.


Five Basic Public Speaking Tips

Check out five time-tested Toastmasters tips that will help you master a topic and present it well. Following these tips will ensure your next speech goes smoothly and your audience gets more from the experience.