It was almost inevitable that I would one day join StoryMasters—an extraordinary club of advanced Toastmasters committed to developing their skills in the ancient art of storytelling.

I started down the road to StoryMasters when I was a child growing up during the mid-1940s and 50s.

Surrounded by books at home and with easy access to the local public library, I developed a love of words, language, and stories from the books I read. I also grew to love oral storytelling. Some of my fondest early memories include gathering with family and friends in our kitchen or living room, where my mother told stories about her life and experiences. She knew precisely which stories, vocalizations and gestures would make us laugh, cry, and feel all the emotions in between. While I greatly admired her storytelling skills, I never thought they were skills I could learn.

Many years would pass before I joined my first Toastmasters club in 1999. After conquering my fear of speaking, I began to understand that by using stories, I could make my speeches more interesting and memorable. As my communication skills improved overall, my interest in storytelling increased as well. I attended several storytelling workshops outside my club. Then I attended a day-long storytelling festival, where storytellers from various genres performed.

The storytelling festival was a transformative experience for me. Nearly all the storytellers were good; but Barbara H. Clark, a local professional storyteller, gave the peak performance of the day. After sitting mesmerized by the skills of this remarkable woman, I realized I was much more interested in becoming a storyteller who made points, than a speaker who interspersed her points with stories. But where and how could I begin giving shape to this dream?

Just weeks after I attended the festival, Tina Tomiyama contacted me to see if I wanted to join a new storytelling club. Was I interested? No, I was ecstatic! I wasted no time in giving her my check and application and becoming a charter member of StoryMasters.

Joining StoryMasters is one of the best decisions I’ve made during my Toastmasters journey. What I appreciate most about this club is the ongoing opportunity to learn from gifted storytellers, as well as newer members who are still seeking their voice and style. With six speaking spots available at every meeting, I have ample opportunities to speak and receive valuable feedback. I also appreciate that speakers are videotaped, which allows us to critique our performances later.

I can’t imagine ever leaving StoryMasters. It aligns perfectly with my self-development goals. I love its members. The club’s warm, casual atmosphere and maintenance of high standards suit me well. Could a burgeoning storyteller possibly ask for anything more?

Margaret Mitchell
Margaret L. Mitchell

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