The audience listened and gave me constructive feedback

Anna Männikkö acts as our Secretary of the club. She keeps the agenda during our board meetings and ensures we don’t lose sight of what matters.

Originally from Poland, Anna moved to Tampere, Finland in 2010 to live with her husband. The city proved to be the perfect setting for one of her hobbies, forest walking.

9 years later, she signed up to become a member of our club after hearing about Toastmasters from her work colleagues. Her first impression was that “Tampere Toastmasters club is a friendly place, great for practising public speaking. The atmosphere is welcoming and warm.”

During a regular club meeting, Anna enjoys constructed speeches the most. She still remembers her icebreaker speech and how nervous she felt about introducing herself to a new group of people. However, excitement took the place of nervousness when “the audience listened and gave me constructive feedback.”

Anna loves meeting people and hopes to see many new faces at the next club meetings. Her message to you is: “Come and visit our Toastmasters club in Tampere. It can be a positive experience for you also.”

— Written by Andruta Illie

Can joining a Toastmasters club help you overcome social anxiety?

Can joining a Toastmasters club help you overcome social anxiety? The answer is yes. 

Ada Dumitrescu, one of our most active members, tells her story of overcoming social anxiety and finding the confidence to share her ideas in front of other people. 

This is Ada’s inspiring story: 

“My story of joining Tampere Toastmasters starts with Tampere Toastmasters Youth. Adriana Vasilache brought this course to my high school. Throughout this course, my colleagues and I learned to give speeches, organize Table Topics and other Toastmaster duties. It was delightful and insightful. After graduation, I became a member of Tampere Toastmasters club as a way to address my social anxiety. I was sure that I would learn many skills that would help me in the future.

So far, my experience with the club has been fascinating and engaging as well as imaginative. When I started, I was very anxious to give speeches in front of other people, but with the support of fellow members, I found the courage to do it. Now it’s one of my favourite things to do as a Toastmaster.
It gives me adrenaline and keeps me focused.

Walking to a stage used to be something I was terrified of and would avoid at any cost, but now it is something I long for during meetings. I feel liberated when the speech is over and excited to receive feedback on how I did. Then I relax for the rest of the meeting, knowing that I contributed and brought value to members and guests.

The accomplishment I am most proud of from my Toastmaster experience is getting to the District level in the evaluation competition. I was surprised that I managed to get so far and enjoy every second of it.

I will cherish forever what I learned at Tampere Toastmasters. Not only did I learn how to give speeches, give and receive constructive feedback, improvise, but also to believe in myself. To go in front of people and share my opinions and passions with confidence. It has really helped me manage my social anxiety. Today I can approach people with more assertiveness and keep a conversation flowing.

I want to welcome anyone interested in learning useful skills to join Tampere Toastmasters. People here are so kind, open and supportive that I am sure you will fit right in. Our meetings are super amazing, fun and educative too! A total jackpot!”

📷: Ada shaking hands with Annisa Rantanen after giving a speech. 
Photo by Adriana Vasilache 

— Written by Andruta Illie


Toastmasters is an opportunity for learning and developing

Adriana Vasilache is a District 108 Club Growth Director, past President of our club and currently serving as Sergeant at Arms. She is a driving force in our club thanks to her visionary leadership and unmatched commitment. 

In her own words, “Toastmasters is an opportunity for learning and developing, for building self-esteem, for growing. Behind these words and skills, there is a community. A community of people who want to learn and to have fun. A community of people whose energy gives you wings.”

This is her personal journey with Tampere Toastmasters

“I joined Tampere Toastmasters in April 2014 mainly for practising speaking on other than technical topics, and also for conquering my shyness and being able to talk about myself.

My role is currently threefold: I have the sergeant at arms role to ensure about the practicalities of the meeting. I have the past president role where I offer guidance when needed to the current club officers. And I am also the club growth director for district 108 to which our club belongs. All in all, what I like the most is meeting new people who want to develop themselves, and from whom I can learn new, useful things.

I remember the second time I gave my introductory speech, the icebreaker. It was part of a new pathway and a moment to reflect on how much I grew as a person while being with the Toastmasters club. It felt very personal, and I received amazing feedback from the audience.

With the support of Toastmasters, I developed my communication skills (including written communication), listening skills and evaluation skills. Besides, and this is not something that I had in mind when I joined, I also learned and practised leadership skills. Recently I started a project on mentoring and networking, and I have learned a lot about how to interact with users, form and lead a team. By doing this, I learned about myself what kind of leader I am and how I tend to interact with people.

I love Table Topics as with every meeting, you get to hear a new perspective. Some of the topics are a profound invitation to reflection while others are eye-opening, fun and relaxing.

Toastmasters is an opportunity for learning and developing, for building self-esteem, for growing. Behind these words and skills, there is a community. A community of people who want to learn and to have fun. A community of people whose energy gives you wings.”

— Written by Andruta Illie

📷: Andruta Ilie

Toastmasters is for everyone, regardless of their background and education

Toastmasters is for everyone, regardless of their background and education

Annisa Rantanen

Today we introduce you to our club’s president, Annisa Rantanen and her inspiring story. 

I joined Toastmasters in 2016, and I found my local club in Tampere, thanks to one of my Indonesian friends. She was coming to visit Finland the same year, and as we discussed her visit, she mentioned the word “Toastmaster”. It was funny because the first thoughts that came to my mind were: “What is this Toastmasters about? Is it a cooking class or forum for people mastering the art of toast bread?” It turned out it had nothing to do with cooking, but everything to do with public speaking and leadership. 

I was intrigued, so I went to a club meeting even before my friend arrived in Finland. There I was greeted warmly and listened to inspirational speeches, impromptu speeches, and evaluations. I was impressed by how the meeting was held, and I liked that people gave each other short written notes of encouragement and feedback. 

So many people spoke good English, and most of them seemed highly educated. I was not sure my place was there because I’m a housewife and have no higher education. I remember sharing my background with a member and asking if I could still join. The answer was: “Toastmasters is for everyone, regardless of their background and education.” 

With a strange mix of doubt and newfound confidence, I dared myself to join the club. The story I told about myself during the icebreaker was of my struggles and what it meant to be a housewife. In the “housewife community, there’s a lot of shame going around these stories and women are judged because they choose to put their families and children first. One member of that community harshly said to me that “you won’t make a difference no matter how hard you study”.
To my surprise, my fellow Toastmasters found my story inspiring, celebrated it and admired my courage to speak up. It made me feel safe and comfortable. I felt seen for who I was despite my situation and gained hope and confidence for the future. 

People are positive and motivated, and I often hear during the meetings: “You can do it. You have come very far, and you will do just fine.” 

One of my greatest memories with Tampere Toastmasters is joining a speech competition. I am fascinated about finding that perfect moment when I am not nervous anymore. The flow is there, and everything else seems to fall in place. I learned that giving a speech is not about me, but the value and the message I can offer to the audience. It’s not about how good I look on stage, but whether my message can impact other people’s lives. I learned about this by attending a speech competition in Lithuania. From that day onward, I was able to relax more and shift the focus placed on myself to the audience. 

Another important skill I learned throughout my membership with Tampere Toastmasters is how to give and accept constructive feedback. Taking feedback was always hard for me, especially the negative one. But after joining Tampere Toastmasters, this has changed. I know that the purpose of feedback is to help me improve my communication and leadership skills. 

Nowadays I’m acting as the President of Tampere Toastmasters. What I love about this role is being able to support other fellow officers while practising people and leadership skills. 

I love all parts of our meetings, but my top two would have to be Table Topics and Giving a Speech. I learn a lot from other members’ speeches. They inspire, motivate me and even make me wiser. No matter their form (inspirational, humorous, informative), speeches give me value, knowledge, and good practices for real life. And don’t even ask about Table Topics, it’s a hell of a lot of fun! 

Join Tampere Toastmasters, and you will see for yourself what I’m talking about. It’s not just a public speaking community. It’s a great source of good energy. See you at the next meeting!

📷: Annisa and her little one from her personal album 

— Written by Andruta Illie


Public speaking needs to be learned and practised by everyone

Jose Maria Perez-Macias Martin is serving our club as the President for the year 2020-2021. Originally from Spain, he moved to Tampere in 2012 to work at Tampere University

Six years later, Jose Maria visited Tampere Toastmasters for the first time. In his own words, he was “hooked”. He decided to join our club in 2019 to meet active people in an international context.

Ever since, Jose’s commitment to grow as a public speaker and leader has taken our club to new heights. Read his inspiring journey to find out how: 

“I joined Tampere Toastmasters last year. I visited the club for the first time in November 2018; my friend Patricia, who lives in London, told me about it. I was hooked. The main driver was to meet active people. Afterwards, I discovered that the Tampere Toastmasters community values the same things I do – integrity, excellence, respect, and service to others.

I cannot speak highly enough about my experience. I felt supported from the beginning. Slowly, I was encouraged to give speeches and later, to participate in speech contests. My humorous speech, “The Art of Being Single” won the hearts of Tampere club members, made it to the 3rd round in the Turku contest, which led me to compete in Estonia for the area contest. I learned so much during those events; especially from giving the same speech over and over again. When you know a speech by heart, you can start focusing on connecting with the audience. It feels empowering to be able to make people laugh and get instant feedback. I must say it is quite addictive.

Public speaking needs to be learned and practised by everyone

In the past, I was not able to look people in the eye when speaking to a crowd. I learned to do it with confidence during Toastmasters meetings. I learned how to write a speech and construct it. The mind is continually learning new speech structures to communicate ideas that matter. You cannot imagine how useful this skill is in professional life, for instance, when you are asked to share an opinion during a work meeting. I’ve learned it all by doing. I still am.

The unexpected lesson was about leadership. Developing communication and leadership skills are two of the main goals at the core of every Toastmasters club. You learn the qualities of a good leader, and you get the chance to practice them. While some leaders are more natural than others, leadership is something that can be learned. We learn through observing and listening to others, storytelling, and regular practices. Every meeting is a lesson of leadership.

Becoming the President of the Tampere Toastmasters club was a wonderful surprise. I feel honoured that members put their trust in me to lead them into achieving their goals. A fun fact that I remembered after the election is that I used to be the president of my class during school. It was awakening to see myself carrying the same role at different stages in my life. I belonged to a supportive team then, and I belong to a supportive team now.

My favourite part of our club meetings continues to be Table Topics. For those who don’t know, Table Topics are impromptu speeches/ answers to questions formulated by the Table Topic Master around a meeting’s theme. It is both a creative practice and an opportunity for club members and guests to connect, share stories, and shine.

Learning how to communicate efficiently and lead yourself (and others) will impact your life and relationships in a multitude of ways. By doing so, your self-confidence naturally increases, and you will grow as a person. Furthermore, Toastmasters is for you if you believe in mutual support and positive learning environments. You will make new friends and you will be supported in your projects. You can learn how to deliver a presentation, start a podcast, and even how to compete on international stages. In time, you can make fair use of your knowledge to support new members in their journeys while being open to learning from them. Public speaking needs to be learned and practised by everyone. And Tampere Toastmasters is the perfect place for that.

I have two big projects this year: to learn to lead and to speak in public. In life, we are not always given the possibility to practice them. Come and join my club and me onto this path.”

— Written by Andruta Illie

#TampereToastmasters #TMmemberstory

Boost your public speaking and leadership skills with Tampere Toastmasters

“Most people come to Toastmasters to learn how to speak in public. It is one of people’s biggest fears. They join the club when they see that public speaking can be learned in a positive and helpful atmosphere. It is not like a class – it is mutual helpfulness in a friendly group – with great materials and examples.” – Shawn Watson, President of Toastmasters Tampere — Written by Andruta Illie