I just got back from the Toastmasters District 13 Spring Conference. What an excellent program!
Have you ever been surrounded by people who all have the same passion as you? Perhaps you are a motorhead or comic book collector. Maybe a computer geek, or D&D freak. Maybe you just enjoy a good ole fashion quilting bee… I know, younger folks are wondering, “What is a quilting bee is?” Ask your grandma.
Whatever your passion, it’s always exponentially better when a room full of people are standing around enjoying it together. Exchanging ideas, tips, and fun.
That’s what you would have seen at the District 13 conference. A large group of people who all share the desire to improve their speaking and leadership skills, create a positive learning environment and change lives.
We were fortunate to learn from Gary Mull who is a Toastmasters International Director, speaker, and author. Gary reminded us of the leadership aspects of Toastmasters International, inspired us to help others in our clubs as they strive to reach their goals, and taught us the leaderships secrets of Captain Bligh… and the mistakes he made that led to the famous mutiny on the Bounty.
We also were able to witness the District 13 International Speech contest. The contestants were awesome! Speakers are paid to share funny, touching, uplifting messages that help you look at life differently and improve your life. It always amazes me that in a Toastmasters contest, we get to see many speakers share their messages with us. The contestants inspired us to cherish our loved ones, accept life and move forward, and love others even when they don’t quite deserve it. Some contestants warned us about living our lives in debt and fighting for the legal protection of our children. But all had important messages that made us laugh, learn, and cry. (Don’t tell anyone)
Every contest challenges the competitors to improve their skills in a short amount of time. Continuous reviewing, rewriting, and refraining allows them to hone and polish their skills in such a concentrated manner. I was very fortunate to view the contest and congratulate the winner. From here, he begins the process again and takes a new speech to the next level (round 5) for the Toastmasters Region VI International Speech contest. He will be coming to Erie to present his speech before the contest, so stay tuned to learn more.
Then there were the workshops. During the twice-annual Toastmasters Leadership Institute, the district’s leadership trains its officer to lead. During this conference, it taught its members to speak. The workshops covered international communications, generational communications, and mentoring communications. Victoria Bush conducted a workshop about using websites to communicate and Shawnee Mueller presented a workshop on how to be an effective contest judge. I presented a workshop on using the arts, the web, and coaches to augment your Toastmasters skills in speaking.
Speaking skills are such an advantage when you are trying to succeed in life. This Gary Mull reminded us, when he carried to us a message from Toastmasters International President Chris Ford. Â His message was to improve our communications and leadership skills in order to improve the world.
This reminded me of a story. In Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die there is a story of how you don’t lift weights because you might be assaulted with a barbell on the street and need to benchpress it off your chest. You lift weights so you can lift bags, buckets, and bikes. So you can help your friends move furniture and sandbags.
In the same way, as Craig Valentine has said, “You don’t join Toastmasters so you can be a better Toastmaster.” You join Toastmasters to be a better you. A better you, makes a difference in the world.
How do you make a better you?