The Faces of Four interview series showcases the journeys and stories of District 4 Toastmasters and leaders. Continuing our series, today we’re featuring our Program Quality Director, Noemi Gonzalez. Let’s find out more about Noemi’s journey.
1) Tell us a little about your Toastmasters career (e.g. How long have you been with the organization, what clubs do you belong to, what made you join, etc.).
I joined Toastmasters four years ago. A friend and I agreed to meet for happy hour, but first, she insisted we attend “a meeting.” She said it with such earnestness that I thought, “Yikes! If it’s what I’m thinking, should we be going to happy hour?” But I resolved to be supportive and I attended “the meeting.” It was my first of what would become my original home club, Global SF Toastmasters – the warmth of that group made me feel at home. I remember being impressed by the follow up email I received from the VP of Membership the next day; it made me feel welcome and that they had things together!
I didn’t know, before I attended that first meeting, that in it I’d find a way to achieve two very essential goals. As a newly independent Translation and Interpretation Services professional, recently arrived in the Bay Area, I NEEDED: 1.To communicate and work effectively with new and prospective clients, regardless of their field (I work regularly with professionals and their clients in the medical, legal, business, government and education sectors, among other industries); 2. To create a community of supportive and focused individuals, a sort of unofficial group of surrogate colleagues, along whom I could continue to grow. Currently, I am also a member of Spanish Bilingual SF Toastmasters, which I have sponsored, and Point of Order Toastmasters.
2) How has Toastmasters helped you in your professional career?
I’ve definitely become a more effective communicator; I am more concise and clear. I also feel that due to the fact that within the club, area, division and district environments we form and work within, I’ve learned valuable skills that have made me a more thoughtful leader and team member. This flows into my interactions with my clients and with the members of other communities of which I am a member.
3) What is the best public speaking advice you’ve ever received?
This is a tough one! I’ve received a lot of great advice. I’ll focus on the most relevant to my growth: slow down, breathe, take pauses and enjoy the moment; be kind to yourself if you forget or overlook something. Probably at the top of my list: the audience will enjoy you if you enjoy yourself!
4) What has surprised you the most about yourself since you joined Toastmasters?
How much I enjoy sharing ideas, knowledge and information with large audiences! I used to get physically sick when I had to speak in front of groups. But something shifted when I started to talk to the audience as a friend. I enjoy sharing something relevant or fun.
5) What are your interests and hobbies outside of Toastmasters?
What, this isn’t a hobby?! When I am not enjoying a club meeting or district event, I like to draw – I love drawing people’s faces the most; capturing an expression or feeling. I need to do that more often, so don’t be surprised if the next time you give a speech, you see me with my sketching pad out!
6) How would you describe the perfect meal?
A bowl of creamy bean soup made from scratch with butter, cheese and a few other secret family ingredients, with fragrant homemade flour tortillas (you don’t know how wonderful these are until you have them homemade) and a chunk of queso fresco. It’s a simple meal made with simple ingredients that just takes me back to childhood the way few other things can.
7) What is a fun fact most people don’t know about you?
Back when I was in my twenties, in college, I was a Shoplift Agent for a couple of years. This is a job that requires attention to detail, a responsible attitude, knowledge of criminal and civil law, good writing and verbal skills, common sense, etc. (I think this description fits me to a T, right?). However, most people don’t reconcile my personality with this type of job. It’s a great lesson on not judging a book by its cover!
To learn more about District 4 Toastmasters, check out our website D4TM.org