Toastmasters can and will make you a better person

I’ve been pre-occupied this past weekend with the District 64 Toastmasters Spring Conference. It was a terrific conference and an opportunity to spend time with positive and focused people. Toastmasters is known for that. Attracting positive and focused people.

I attended a professional development session in which I was asked, “Why did you join TM?”
I answered, “Because over the years, several terrific people had suggested I join. And I knew that an organization that would attract such positive and focused individuals was an organization that would be worthwhile.” I was right. I’ve been a member of Toastmasters International since 2001 and have enjoyed every minute of it.  If you’re not a member but are thinking about it, visit TI’s website and search for a club near you.
My recommendation is to interview or test drive at least 2 clubs before joining, as part of your success as a toastmaster will be directly related to your own success in hooking up with the right club. (Each one has a unique personality and style and there are now quite a few special interest clubs.) You can generally attend up to 3 meetings at a club before you will be expected to join.
Another session I attended at this weekend’s conference had us rowing imaginary rowboats and singing simultaneously. Hats off to Diane McCoy for leading an amazing session on “The Spark of Possibility.” Diane’s presentation was inspired by a book by Rosamund Zander called “The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life.”  It sounds like a terrific book and gave us plenty of insights into our own leadership styles.
Toastmaster friends in Canmore after attending the International Convention in Calgary. Pictured are L-R Bev Doern, Sherryl Berglund, Doreen & Dianne Winser.

Toastmaster friends in Canmore after attending the International Convention in Calgary. Pictured are L-R Bev Doern, Sheryl Berglund, Doreen & Dianne Winser.

The Toastmaster who has probably had the most influence on my life as a member of this great organization is Bev Doern. It was Bev who encouraged me to join the Prairie Voices club back in 2001. It was Bev who mentored me, encouraged me and inspired me to take in all this wonderful organization has to offer. And it is Bev who continues to amaze me in her dedication to improving her own speaking and leadership skills while continuing to work on behalf of the District and her four clubs. (You can belong to as many TM clubs as you have time for, and Bev, despite being a wife and daughter, the mother of 2 teenage daughters, an aspiring artist and holding down a position of considerable responsibility has managed to find time for 4 TM clubs. And not just as a bystander. She holds an executive position in more than one of those clubs.)
So when we talked about leadership styles in Diane McCoy’s session, I said I lead through enthusiasm. My enthusiasm seems to carry me through most tasks and I try and transfer that enthusiasm onto my team. Bev leads by example. She works hard and diligently on any task before her. And she always acknowledges everyone who helps her along the way.
I do my best to emulate Bev’s style as it has had such a positive impact on me. What style of leader are you?

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Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

10 Responses

  1. Cathy says:

    Wonderfully written blog, Doreen! I agree with everything you have stated. Toastmasters is a great organization and therefore must attract such people. This is the “law of attraction” at its finest!
    Interesting enough, at my interview today one of the questions posed was “Where would you like to go with your career?” My answer was “I would like to lead a team of sales representatives and motivate them to be the best they can be with the task at hand.” The interviewers thought it was a unique answer and asked me what TYPE of leader I want to be!
    To answer BOTH of you, I would like to be seen as a leader rather than a “manager”. I want to lead people by setting a good example, recognizing the strong points of each individual, yet providing them with appropriate feedback to grow as a person. I think motivating somebody is difficult. As a leader, you have to figure out WHAT motivates each person within your team and use that towards them. That’s the type of leader I want to be.
    I never could answer this question a year ago because I simply didn’t know. Toastmasters exposed me to different personalities and group work. Even though I am still a growing individual, I can now see the type of person I truly want to be.

  2. wizardofwords says:

    Great comment, Cathy. Thanks for sharing — and hats off to TM for bringing out the best in you!

  3. Catarina says:

    Yes, Doreen, inspiring others to set an example and succeed as well is an excellent idea.

  4. Lenie says:

    Doreen, I was pleased to read that you lead by enthusiasm. When I was working I had to do a lot of presentations and public speaking. I hated it but the one thing that saved me was that I was totally committed to and enthusiastic about my topic. One of my instructors was a TM member and I often wanted to go with her but never seemed to find the time. Still sorry I didn’t.

  5. Phoenicia says:

    Good article Doreen.

    I have thought about attending a toastmasters conference. I have heard nothing but good things about it.

    Leaders inspire and leaders encourage. Hmm what kind of leader am I? I am practical and like to encourage and challenge others. We each have gifts and talents; some require nurturing and developing.

  6. Monika says:

    Thanks for this post Doreen. I had never heard of Toastmasters. I’m terrified of any kind of public speaking so perhaps I should bite the bullet and join one! I’ve already looked and there are a handful near to where I live… watch this space!

  7. andleeb says:

    Hello Doreen,

    I have heard about Toastmasters but I was not sure, how this works and in which ways it can help.
    I will also look for few Toastmasters around me and join one, hopefully soon.
    thank you for letting me know about it and its great you are enjoying your time and learning.
    Thanks for share.

  8. When I was a training facilitator, I looked into joining Toastmasters, but that career was short lived so I didn’t pursue it. If I start doing any public speaking again, I’ll have to check it out again–and ask you questions!

  9. A great article about the Toastmasters. As a Communication Major, and public speaker and speech writer, I am very familiar with this group. If you can get associated with them, DO IT.

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