Recently I attended the Spring Conference for Toastmasters. By my estimation, the group of attendees was a few hundred. For sure, for me, it was a larger turnout than I ever imagined. This conference came across to me as a celebration. Distinguished Toastmasters, friends, and guests came to Manchester, New Hampshire from Maine, Vermont, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. There are in excess of 100 clubs in District 45 and this district is one of 87 districts Internationally.
If you don’t know, Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization operating clubs worldwide. The purpose of Toastmasters is helping members improve communication, public speaking, and leadership skills. Toastmasters International has a membership of 313,000 folks worldwide in 14,650 clubs, in 126 countries.
There is a special title of Distinguished Toastmaster. For this title, the Distinguished Toastmaster completed specific course work and completed the path of self improvement. This person took advantage of the plethora of opportunities available to members. The Toastmasters program builds communication skills as well as leadership skills. You think you are not a “leader” personality? That’s not true. Everyone has potential, it’s a matter of unlocking the door to your potential. Unlocking the door is what Toastmasters does best for those inclined.
The curriculum is easily customized for any person and it is solely the person who sets the pace to achievement. No rush, no harassment along the way, you go your own pace like you’re walking through the forest of a beautiful day.
There is no mandatory fee to attend meetings. That’s right, it’s free. However, to become a member and take advantage of club resources, the membership fee, or club dues, is due in March and September for semi-annual dues. No worries if you want to join between March and September, it is a simple pro-rated amount.
Getting back to the conference, you may wonder why would I be involved in such a conference? Well, I’ve been a member for about six months. I took a three-year break from my career track, and when I wanted to go back to work, I found I was rusty in some skills. I considered hiring an executive coach. Let me tell you, that’s a pricey way to try to get your mojo back and stay relevant in business today.
I immediately liked the members of Toastmasters when I first attended a meeting. They were honing their skills in a safe environment. My club, now officially named the Greater Derry Speakers Toastmaster Club is small by standards of many other clubs. I am confident that we will double our size, maybe even triple, in the coming months.
Over the conference weekend I spoke with various members in clubs of a range of sizes. Realizing the small size of my group nearly winded me to think about getting up to speak to a group of 40 or more regularly. Yet that’s why I do this. That’s why I signed up. To become better and expand my comfort zone. So the writer in me could share exponentially. Also so the business woman in me can hold her own in a board room, or be a leader at a time when a leader is necessary. Integrity, respect, service, and excellence are the values of Toastmasters International.
Toastmasters is a prime example of engagement in today’s social world. I felt awed upon arriving at the conference that so many people would travel far to meet and share. It’s like an AA meeting for socially awkward people. Attendance becomes addicting, but it’s a positive addiction. The best outcome is confidence, self-esteem, that glowing feeling of power and courage that comes from success.
Newbies are warmly welcomed and not encouraged to go any further than their comfort zone will allow at first. As a newcomer, relax and take it in, adjust, watch how people engage. Most important is to realize that those folks are just like you and me. If you would like further information about the organization or how to join, click here.
Thank you for reading this. I hope you are moved or inspired to reach your greatest potential.