This is exactly the case for me right now! Tonight I am scheduled to deliver my 2nd prepared speech titled “Charity begins at home“, but there are so many things I want to talk about as outlined in the header photo and it is hard to pick a few among them. Hence I have decided to sit behind my keyboard and find out what my mind is really thinking…
There is a popular quote of Mrs.Helen Blanchard, the first female International President of Toastmasters, that says “If you get out of Toastmasters all there is to get out of Toastmasters, you will never get out of Toastmasters!“. Reading this quote makes me think that there is so much more that I don’t know about Toastmasters because if I am asked to provide a quote on Toastmasters at this point, I could only say, “Toastmasters is the place to have an INTELLIGENT FUN!“
Yes! So far I have been having an intelligent fun hanging around intelligent people, most of whom are businessmen, consultants and coaches. Outside the club, I have been amusing myself by thinking about and writing about what happened during the club meetings and the after-event drinks at Schönhauser. But when it comes to tangible take-aways from Toastmasters, I think it is still too early for me to notice any significant change in my own development.
However, as I read about others’ experiences in the May and June magazines, appearantly Toastmaster transforms! Throughout the magazines, there are numerous examples of then-and-now comparisons of skills development and how those polished skills helped improve business performances and achieve larger social goals, etc.
So knowing what I don’t know yet, perhaps I should use this speech as an opportunity to find out what else is out there. On the article called “9 Ways to Spot a Leader” of June Toastmasters magazine, it said, “The key question that a leader must ask is, “Why?” When she understand the Why, she can lead to the How.” So I think I should start with the “Why” first.
I think, to put the whole Toastmasters thing into perspective, it is a safe playing ground for people to learn from repeated attempts and experiences. So far as I have read and spoken to my peers, the senior Toastmasters, who have claimed to benefit from the program, boasted strong developments in storytelling, internal-clock-building, speechwriting, coaching, leading, handling Q&A sessions and weaving humor into speeches.
To cite some examples, Raajeev Aggarwal, a businessman and a Distinguished Toastmaster from California, used Toastmasters as a bridge to build a stand-up comedy career. In his interview, he said, “I use my Toastmasters participation to try new jokes. I tell my fellow Toastmasters that I am using them as a guinea pigs to try new material.”
Katherine Scott, a Distinguished Toastmaster, used Toastmasters to transform herself from a singer to a voice coach. And she says, “Right from my Ice Breaker speech I knew the potential for transformation on a personal level. Toastmaster opened up another opportunity for me to use my voice through professional speaking. Everything I learn in Toastmasters is essential for achieving another one of my goals–to be skilled at doing online videos and podcasting.”
And with the improved skills set, Toastmasters around the world has not only enjoyed personal satisfactions by turning their hobbies and passions into new careers, but also they have achieved substantial business growths and achieved larger social goals.
To cite those examples, Pauline A. Blachford, a Competent Communicator, tells her story, “As for becoming comfortable selling my services, the veterans in my Toastmasters club have taught me to use interesting and humorous stories from my professional experience as a way to demonstrate my expertise without feeling like I am giving a sales pitch. It’s working, as most of my clients come to me from my speaking engagements.”
Also, an article inside the June magazine says, “Toastmasters doesn’t just change people; it also affects organizations. One club was built for an association of people with learning challenges and Toastmasters gave a voice to those who had never had a voice before. One woman, a member with learning challenges, gave a speech at their fundraiser and it generated $145,000 in contributions. That’s a big-picture impact that goes far beyond counting ahs and ums!“
So that was to talk about the “Why?” of Toastmasters. Now let’s talk about the “How?“.
Talking about the “How?“, I think that Toastmasters should be a lifestyle for Toastmasters. That means, if we really believe in Toastmasters, I think, we should open up as much space for it as possible in our lives. That means, we should be engaged in it not only at the club meetings, but also outside the club meetings through social activities and online platforms. We should be the loudest cheerleaders of Toastmasters in our communities and personal and professional circles because we know that people will only benefit from it! And when we do that, the proverb “Charity begins at home” will be true for us! We can help our family and friends as a start!
And among our fellow international Toastmasters, there are many, who do that. To mention some examples, in Washington, there is a couple, who have been Toastmasters for 13-14 years. First, the husband Tom joined Toastmasters in 2002 and then the wife Dolly followed suit. Then the next year, they helped start the Monroe Vocal Project club in Monroe, Washington.
And I also remember reading a Facebook post from a wife-and-husband Toastmasters, whose marriage was saved because the wife joined his husband’s Toastmasters club. And I remember commenting on that post on Facebook and the wife “liked” my comment.
Then there is the example of Peter Kossowan, who has chartered 164 Toastmasters clubs in Canada. The magazine article says that Kossowan constantly prospects for potential clubs. When he speaks to potential “targets”, he kindly asks “Why don’t you join me at a Toastmasters meeting and see for yourself the benfits?” And it works!
And his advice for us, the fellow Toastmasters is, “Invite people with leadership ability and ask them to invite people in their network. Talk about it everywhere. Chartering a club is incredibly rewarding–it brings the greatness of Toastmasters to a world that desperately needs strong leaders and communicators. You are qualified to start a club, and you are up to the task.”
In closing, I would like to call my fellow Toastmasters to live Toastmasters as a lifestyle! Be proud of it, talk about it everywhere and ignite inspiration in others to join Toastmasters! At our Officer meeting, our new Club President David suggested to approach start-up communities and organize workshops with them. I think that’s a brilliant idea and I think we should all look out for groups and communities, who need polishing in their speaking and leadership skills!
Finally, I would like to finish my speech with a quote from Buddha:
So that is my prepared speech for today. Hope you like it!