Saturday, November 11, 2017

Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Dinner will be served

good conversation at the dinner table

around our dinner table Friday evening

Jocelyne Vezina received the Toastmaster of the Year award for District 86

At the end of Day One of the District 86 Toastmasters Fall conference, some attendees were still on the dance floor. From my hotel room I could hear the beat of the drums. I like to dance but the strobe lights that rotate as the music plays are not kind to my senses and eyes. They can cause a migraine and that’s not what I need in the middle of a jam-packed conference. And so I retired for the night, but not to go to sleep right away. I had a blog post to write for Saturday the 11th.

Albert at the Toastmasters table

We’d eaten a good meal, served by the hotel staff, watched the banner parade directed by  Area 61 Director, Chris O’Brien, in a lively and engaging style. We’d also celebrated ‘Of the Year’ awards as well as visiting with other Toastmasters. Three members from our club, the Energetics Toastmasters were to receive their medal for the Distinguished Toastmaster designation, and I wanted to be there to help them celebrate that achievement.

Chris, Doris and Cliff have earned their Distinguished Toastmasters designation after plenty of speeches and leadership roles

Of the Year award recipients

Toastmasters, for those who don’t know the name, is the title of an organization founded by American Ralph Smedley in 1924 in Santa Ana, California. With hundreds of clubs world wide, it’s a program for adults 18 years and older to learn speaking skills and work on leadership as well. Practising in a safe club environment, members take roles in weekly meetings and accept opportunities outside the club to learn and grow. The skills transfer to work experiences and life outside of Toastmasters. It’s hard to say who benefits more, the member or the people who work with the Toastmasters in work and social situations. 

Me in Author's Corner with my books

Friday we got to hear the contestants who came through club, area and division contests for the  Table Topics Contest (impromptu) and today (Saturday) we had the Humorous Speech contest. We hear some amazing speeches at this level and were treated also to a Humorous Speech workshop.

Members gain competence in a variety of ways, depending on the path they choose. With the new program, Pathways, they stand to learn even more in a wider selection of learning paths whose content is delivered online. Manuals will be available and are being translated into more languages.
At a district conference such as this, people connect with members within the division and district and it’s good to attend and learn, participate in contests.

Each conference hosts at least one keynote speaker who often travels a distance to bring their message or different insights. This year it was Forrest Willett, speaker and author, who inspired us with stories about how he overcame incredible obstacles to be where he is today. And Vera Johnson, DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster), International Director of Toastmasters International told us of her 9/11 experience. Both Willett and Johnson challenged us to lead well, even in the midst of challenging situations.

Forrest with his books

Vera Johnson, International Director of Toastmasters International

Conference co-chairs, Shawn Salokannel and Kelley McIntyre, and their team of volunteers worked hard to put this conference together. By now, I hope they’ll be sitting back and relaxing some while assessing how things went and resting weary feet after all their hard work. And district leadership teams will also be ready to put their feet up as well.

 If you speak as part of ministry or in your professional work life, I recommend Toastmasters as a place to learn and grow. And to move beyond your comfort zone. Ask for prayer, by all means, when you need to travel and speak, but also consider Toastmasters to help you hone your skills and look as professional as you can be.

Carolyn R. Wilker, editor, author, Toastmaster and storyteller


Glynis said...

Sounds (and looks) like you had a busy weekend. You certainly are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the positive aspects of Toastmasters. What a great organization and good for you for being such a faithful member, Carolyn.

Peter Black said...

You make Toastmasters sound like fun and their events enjoyable social times, as well as times of growth and learning. You are a good advertisement for the organization, too, Carolyn! ~~+~~

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thank you, Glynis and Peter, for your kind comments. We have fun too. Not all speeches and impromptu speaking is of a serious nature.

When I look at what my time with Toastmasters has helped me to do, I know it was essential to be where I am today. Some of those speaking nerves never really go away; I just manage them better. It means I'm aware of my audience and what's in it for them when I speak or do storytelling or present a workshop. Or when I talk with prospective readers at a book signing, as Glynis has noticed. And I want to be professional when I do those things.

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