Toastmasters is so much more than public speaking

I attended a Toastmasters (TM) convention this past weekend, so the virtues of Toastmasters International are fresh on my mind once again. I joined TM back in 2001 and have been singing its praises ever since as TM has been of benefit in my personal and professional life

I just can’t seem to say enough about how TM has helped me and what it can do for you or someone you know or care about.

This weekend’s conference was particularly significant as one of my favourite Toastmasters was officially acknowledged as the District 64 TM of the Year. Hat’s off to District Governor, Ray MacIsaac for awarding Bev Doern this honour for 2009-2010. Bev works tirelessly as a volunteer for TM, in each of her clubs (it was she and Susan Kotello who recruited me and started up the Prairie Voices Club back in 2001) and also on behalf of District 64 by volunteering to embrace any task given her. That is the sign of a truly invaluable volunteer: one who embraces any task given her, and who volunteers to do others.

The amazing Bev Doern “reaching for new heights” at District 64’s 2009 Fall Conference in Winnipeg last November.

You can see that Toastmasters provides us with an amazing opportunity to acquire new personal and professional skills!

As the winner of the Quarter Finals of World Championship of Public Speaking, Trisha Sveistrup, taught us in her amazing speech, Toastmasters also helps us be better listeners. Listening is often an understated skill, but equally as important as being able to effectively express ourselves.

And Toastmasters is also all about networking and friendship. Thanks to all the District 64 Toastmasters who bought and showed interest in my new book, “Before You Say Yes.” You are all so appreciated!

It never ceases to amaze me how much energy and positive reinforcement one finds in a room of Toastmasters. It connects you with like-minded people, helps expose you to new ideas, polishes your communication and leadership skills and forms the foundation for strong lifelong friendships.

If you’re not already a member of TM, please check it out. Use this link to find a club near you:
http://www.toastmasters.org/.

Remember, if you happen to visit a club and don’t quite feel comfortable with its style or personality, try another one! Each club has a distinct way of doing things and it is the style and personalities of its members that shape it. Find the one that fits you best. 

And if you are a Toastmaster, please jump in and tell us what TM has done for you. As Distinguished Toastmaster, Shelley Walker said at this Year’s Spring Convention, as she was accepting yet another award of recognition, “I’m a Lifer.”

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.

15 Responses

  1. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for stopping in, John. I like your comment about taking a chance and trying something new. I was at a party for my writers' assn last night and introduced the idea of Table Topics. No one in the room had ever been to a TM mtg. But they were willing to give a simplified version of TT a try and it worked well. We all learned something about each other that would not likely have ever come up in day-to-day conversation. Always fun!

  2. mannerofspeaking.org says:

    Hi Doreen,

    Great post. Toastmasters is well and truly a great organization. Not a perfect one, mind you – there is always room for improvement as TM teaches – but incredible value for very little money.

    The best way to describe TM, in my view, is to compare it to a public speaking laboratory. You can experiment; you can try things out; and if something blows up, nobody gets hurt! My advice to people is try things that they might not try elsewhere. Take a chance. If something works, great, and if something doesn't, you have learned something new.

    As 2001 World Champion Darren LaCroix said, "Nobody goes to Toastmasters to become a better speaker at Toastmasters." And that is the way it should be.

    Cheers!

    John Zimmer
    http://mannerofspeaking.org

  3. wizardofwords says:

    Jean: It took me quite awhile to join, too. Thank goodness that 2 dedicated TM's took it upon themselves to keep phoning me until I joined! That was nearly 9 years ago and I've never looked back! TM is such an amazing org. You will definitely not be sorry you joined.

  4. Jean at The Delightful Repast says:

    Doreen, I have associates who have been in Toastmasters for varying lengths of time, and they swear by it! It has been my intention for several years to one day join one of many local chapters, and I will definitely do it as soon as I can fit it into my schedule. The program gets amazing results.

  5. wizardofwords says:

    Right on, Emma! TM (and volunteerism in general) seems to bring out the best in people. And helps us discover wonderful things about ourselves that my not otherwise have surfaced. Hats off to Dr. Ralph Smedley for developing the TM program back in 1924. The basic premise still works. Encourage members to strive for excellence, challenge themselves and provide a supportive environment for their fellow members. You can't go wrong with that!

  6. Em says:

    When I first joined I didn't think I needed TM. I was already used to giving public presentations through my job. But what I found was a whole new side of myself that I didn't really know was there. I found my giving side, and this is what I love most about TM, the chance to share and help others. I love to be able to provide support, and to just be there when people need that help and support. The other thing I like is the lack of obligation in the organisation, we all support and help each other, without expecting anything other than help and support in return. It is selfless and altruistic, and all this in a selfish and malevolent world. Here's to all those toastmasters out there!

  7. Suzanne Boles says:

    Sorry for the typo and in such a short comment. Of course I meant "As" you know…

  8. wizardofwords says:

    It sure will, Suzanne. I know that you are the kind of individual who gets deeply involved with whatever organization matters to you. And I am hoping you will develop that kind of affiliation/connection with TM. As you know (having been a past national president of PWAC) a person only gets as much as they put into any organization.

    Welcome to TM, and I hope that we will soon rub shoulders at a TM event! Would have loved to have travelled to Palm Desert, CA for the International conference (really enjoyed the one in Calgary a couple of years ago) but cannot afford the time or $$ this year due to other commitments. Maybe next year!

  9. Suzanne Boles says:

    Ad you know I just joined this year. Still feeling things out but I think it will be a great experience all around.

  10. wizardofwords says:

    You're a fast learner, Trisha! Too often, people don't immerse themselves in the org and only see TM as an opportunity to practice their public speaking. Sure, there's plenty of opportunity for that, but SO much more. And you're right! TM always seems to attract the most positive people. Occasionally, there are those who are singing a different tune, but they soon change their ways (having a positive nature is contagious!) or decide to move on.

    Congrats again on winning the D64 International speech contest this weekend. You'll do us proud in Palm Desert, CA this August. (Yes, to non-members. TM does provide some amazing travel opportunities.)

  11. Trisha Sveistrup says:

    I also can't say enough about Toastmasters. Sometime this winter it hit me what an amazing organization it is and that I wanted to become more involved.

    The organization is fantastic, but the best part is the PEOPLE! So many Toastmasters are open and willing to help each other, it is really inspiring. At first, I thought that it was just the people in my club, but now I realize that it is Toastmasters in general.

    I attribute Toastmasters to helping me find my purpose, my passion and so, like Shelley…I too, consider myself a lifer…I'm just in my 2nd year, rather than my 22nd!! 🙂

  12. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks, Cathy. It has been such a pleasure to see you grow as a speaker, which has so nicely rounded out your amazing list of skills.

  13. Lord Selkirk says:

    TM certainly changes lives! As a new graduate entering the "real world", I was looking for a way to improve my public speaking skills and show volunteerism on my resume. Little did I know my accomplishments, confidence, and friendships would strengthen and grow to what they are today!

    TM for me has become more of a "positive motivational" evening than anything else. I love watching people come out of their shells. I enjoy learning from other people and their topics presented as well!

    TM has become very dear to me and I promise to be there for a long time coming.

    Kindly,
    Cathy Marynick
    VP Education
    Lord Selkirk Toastmasters

  14. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for your comment, Ray. I can truly agree that the transformations one sees in individuals is amazing. We have a member who was so shy and afraid to speak in public that he froze at the front of the room & could not complete his sentence. He is now pres of our club and an awesome speaker filled with confidence. That transformation took less than 2 years due to the ongoing support & encouragement one receives thru members and the TM program.

  15. Ray MacIsaac says:

    The amazing thing about Toastmasters is how it subtly changes lives. Shy quiet people come out of their shell. Loud annoying people learn to be more graceful. By allowing members to progress at their own pace the organization develops leaders and communicators who have real impacts in their community.

    It has been an honour to watch all our members achieve Greatness through Growth this year

    Ray MacIsaac
    District 64 Governor
    2009-2010

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