Florian Bay, our D91 Club Growth Director (CGD), is a true Franco-Brit – whilst he is French to the core he has fully immersed himself in his adopted homeland of “Dear Old Blighty”, including our culture, food and customs. Florian is the person most passionate about Toastmasters that I know, and he dedicates much of his time and effort to growing our organisation and motivating its members.
Where do you live and which club(s) are you a member of?
I came to the UK from France in 2005 and I currently live in Beckenham. I first joined Cheltenham Speakers and after moving to London, London Olympians and have been a member of four clubs at one time. Currently, I am the Treasurer at London Victorians (the club I set up in 2014), the VPE at St Pauls Speakers and President at Beckenham Communicators (presently a pre-charter club).
How did you find out about Toastmasters?
I first read about Toastmasters in a self-help book some 10 years ago – it looked really interesting and something I thought would support my political ambitions. Unfortunately, I lived in Bath at the time and there were no local clubs. It wasn’t until I moved to Gloucester in 2013 and Googled something to do outside of work that I discovered Cheltenham Toastmasters. I attended their International Speech Contest, signed up shortly afterwards and presented my Ice Breaker two months later.
I found the concept of Toastmasters interesting and I wanted to become more confident by pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. In that respect, my expectations have been surpassed – Toastmasters very much did the trick. I also wanted to increase my social circle and I have met many new and interesting people through Toastmasters. I’ve always found public speaking empowering and enjoyable, but I just wasn’t so good at it – Toastmasters changed that and has made my presentations significantly better.
As well as the communication part I also discovered the leadership aspects of Toastmasters. I used to run a successful student political society and was missing it. I bumped into Hilary Briggs at a Divisional contest and she convinced me that I should become more involved and take advantage of the leadership opportunities. I then quickly progressed through the Club Officer roles and ultimately set up London Victorians. Toastmasters has exceeded my expectations in leadership but my journey of continuous improvement goes on.
What do you enjoy most about Toastmasters?
It’s not one thing, but I do enjoy the leadership element, creating something and leaving a legacy. I like seeing my plans materialise into results – it’s empowering! I also enjoy the socialising and of course, making speeches.
What are you currently focussing on at Toastmasters?
My current focus is on creating and supporting new clubs. I have been developing a manual, checklists and the “demo meeting box” (of which there are ten on the floor of my laundry room in the process of being completed). Using the “power of infrastructure”, by planning and creating the right tools, I can make things easier for our Club Officers and help them sustain club membership. I am a firm believer in Kaizen, continuous improvement through ongoing small incremental changes.
What are your Toastmaster ambitions for the future?
This year, my role of D91 Club Growth Director is a big test of my leadership skills. However, I intend to continue the journey through each step of the Trio roles and, if all goes to plan, become the District Director in 2019. My ambition is for District 91 to become the Number 1 district, the best in the world.
Any views on how we can improve Toastmasters in District 91?
I share with some of our D91 officers, the frustration of Toastmaster being USA-centric. As we are the fastest growing region, I would like to see a European hub where we can acquire Toastmaster materials quickly and hassle-free.
Toastmasters takes up most of my spare time. I am reading more now and hoping to complete the Game of Thrones novels before binging on the TV over Christmas. I enjoy cooking and my tuna salad with radish has been well-received by my Toastmaster colleagues. I also enjoy my weekly “Macky Dees” treat and, of course, I have my supply of pickled eggs. I also enjoy leisurely strolls around London and travel – after Vancouver I am looking forward to delivering a speech preparation workshop in November for District 59 (South & Western Europe) in Milan.
So, who are your favourite musicians and bands?
My musical tastes are quite eclectic – I like high energy music including rock and heavy metal. My favourite bands are Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode and Rammstein (a Berlin-based “German industrial metal band”).
Any final words for our District 91 members?
My advice is face the fear and do it anyway. If I had found a club back in 2007 I would have had six years more experience of public speaking than I have now. There are many many people who want to speak but can’t find their voice. Let’s grow forward together!