Oatley RSL Toastmasters promotes itself as ‘The Friendly Club’. Many members identified that enduring friendships were one of the features most valued in the Club.

Such friendships are one of the reasons why many choose to remain in the Club long after the original imperatives for joining have been met.

This is not to say that mainstream public speaking and leadership skills acquisition are not valued. They are. However, it does underscore the importance of having a sympathetic, supportive Club environment in which to experiment with public speaking and leadership, knowing that failure is very much part of the process of learning and it doesn’t matter if one fails in front of friends.

A good case in point here is in the regularly scheduled joke session at the start of each meeting. Telling a joke well is deceptively difficult. We often have trouble remembering punchlines and getting our timing right. Practice is the key here. It is better to practise in front of a sympathetic audience of Toastmasters, where we can get good feedback and learn from the performance of others, than it is to attempt to tell a joke cold turkey in a live social situation. With regular Toastmasters practice most members should be able to become confident, skilled joke tellers. But the key to it all is that friendly Toastmasters environment.