Conversation with David Fuentes:

How did you become involved with ToastMasters?

I had no idea what it was. I had an invitation from a coworker, they had this idea for Toastmasters and so I started going over to Oak Hill chapter here in Austin to try and learn a little bit more about what it is and how these communication skills are developed. I went in not knowing anyone and not really knowing anything about Toastmasters. Then I slowly saw that each meeting runs very efficiently so you have an agenda and you have an hour to go through the whole meeting and part of the process is everyone having a role to play in the meeting, so we each hold each other accountable. Each Toastmaster meeting has a different role, so someone who counts who gives 10 minute speeches and initially I was very scared but then sometime in life you just have to raise your hand. That was my first moment where I got involved with Toastmasters. Ever since then I’ve been participating every Wednesday here at EGBI. I’m still learning more about what it is and how to form that community through Toastmasters.

Can you provide an overview of Toastmasters International and Its mission? 

 It’s an international nonprofit, focused on developing professional, personal skills, communication, and leadership. Toastmasters is creating a community and a safe space where you’re able to practice those skills. Some of us come from backgrounds where public speaking is something that can be very stressful. Getting into the meeting and learning the structures and roles. Toastmasters holds everyone accountable in different ways so they are learning pathways that you undergo depending on the skill that you want to develop whether it’s time management or organizing your speech. We offer Toastmasters in different languages. It’s for number 1: building community and creating a safe space. Then also having accountability and practicing speeches that are personal or professional. Toastmasters empowers entrepreneurs to refine their communication skills and excel in their business. It gives people an opportunity to practice their public speaking abilities and also their leadership abilities. Toastmasters really helps people be able to develop those fantastic skills. 

How has being involved in Toastmasters impacted your personal and professional development? 

I found myself in this professional and personal development purpose. It’s been very useful, I’ve never been very adept at public speaking. It’s always something that’s gotten me nervous, but once you practice something over and over again it becomes easier. Maybe that fear never goes away but it becomes easier and it becomes a routine. On top of that you learn to use your body language in order to communicate. It’s a big part of the way you try to engage with your audience. Another thing is being aware of your audience and conscious of who is listening to you. Whether it’s a bilingual audience or an audience of small business owners of community leaders. You have to adapt your speech to communicate your message. In my personal life whether we consider it public speaking or not we do this a lot in our family events. We want to be able to communicate quickly,  efficiently, and be very vulnerable in our message but also have that organization so your message is clear. 

What are the primary benefits for individuals who join? 

The primary benefits that I’ve seen so far is whether you have to prepare for your speech for personal or professional life. It helps having an audience accounting for the factors you can’t control. Toastmasters is a place to prepare you for the unexpected. 

How does Toastmasters specifically benefit small business owners, and what skills can they expect to develop?

The way you communicate in your marketing can really help differentiate yourself. Toastmaster is where you learn how to do that because you have two minutes to communicate a clear message, you have to explain what you do as a  business owner. Usually it takes 3 minutes for someone to stop listening so it learns how to communicate efficiently. It’s a skill that we’ll use either in a small business or in life. 

How does Toastmasters foster a supportive and constructive environment for improving communication skills? 

A big part of Toastmasters is constructive feedback, so we each tell each other what we do well. We recommend each other to go with our strengths and minimize our weaknesses. I have certain tendencies in my public speaking that I wasn’t even aware of until someone from Toastmasters analyzed the way I speak. Telling me from a place of development positively telling me what I did very well and what I could improve on. At first everyone is nervous, no one knows what to expect after it becomes “How are you?”, “How are your kids?”. You start building that community and start being intimate with one another. You’re not scared of being scared in front of anyone. It’s a positive and safe space. It’s through meeting each other every day and holding each other accountable but making it a fun and safe space. 

For entrepreneurs hesitant about joining Toastmasters, what would you say to encourage them to take a leap? 

I think the best thing is to just show up. The goal of Toastmasters is to get everyone to speak publicly. We always try to get people to speak publicly but that can come in different forms: “Hi, welcome in, can you tell us your name, last name, and what you do?”. That’s enough, the first step is showing up even if you’re scared of speaking publicly. Everything is volunteer based, I really recommend it if you have a fear of public speaking, it’s just a thing where you just put yourself in the position. Once you start doing it you realize you might even enjoy it sometimes and even if you don’t it gives you a voice, it’s a place to practice and prepare. So I recommend you to come in and try it and if you don’t like it you can say that you’ve done it and you tried it. 

Can you share a memorable moment you’ve experienced here in Toastmasters?

My favorite part of Toastmasters is the community that’s built. I’ve been getting to know a bit more of our members and what they do and even beyond that a little bit more about themselves. There was a new participant, this was their first meeting. We didn’t have any speakers in our agenda so I asked for some volunteers and she shot up her hand, never really having met anyone in the room yet, kinda visibly nervous but also excited. She gave an amazing impromptu speech about the importance of getting out of your zone and the importance of raising your hand. It was very inspiring because you hear about their story, they get very vulnerable, they’re honest with the way they are feeling, but they’re doing a good job at it too. After that we saw a bunch of people volunteering. I asked for another ten minute speaker and someone shot up their hand and someone shot up their hand and gave a ten minute speech with little preparation. Later sessions we had people who had not participated in the first meeting, they have finally found their voice, confidence, and were able to present.  Sometimes you just have to volunteer yourself, raise your hand, and figure everything out afterwards you get out of your comfort zone. 

How can we find more information about joining EGBI Toastmasters? 

You can visit our website here at Our office phone number is (512) 928-2594. You can also email at and I’m happy to share more information. 

To find out more information about what we do here at EGBI look at our website here

Find video here.  Find spanish version here.