By the time you will be reading this article, we will be well into contest season as clubs around our District are taking part in the Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests. Contests offer us an important variation to our club agenda – one of the runners up in the International Speech Contest recently reflected that the only way to really improve is to compete and to stand alongside other contestants to learn from them and to strive to do better.
It is true that this is one of the ways that we can improve – but the truth is that Toastmasters is a personal journey. Some people join to develop public speaking skills, some join to develop leadership skills, some join to try and win contests, and sometimes people just join for a new social network.
I want to tell you about my personal trainer Joe. Joe is a really capable and confident guy in the gym environment. He is at home around the gym, he knows how every machine and bit of equipment works. He works with clients like me all the time and helps them achieve their goals. But Joe decided that he wanted to become a better speaker. Not just because he had listened to me ‘talk up Toastmasters’ in many of my sessions with him, and not just because he was getting married soon but because he wanted to improve.
When Joe visited the club, he would soon join, he was met with warmth, encouragement and soon saw for himself what the Toastmasters program could offer him. We recently had a conversation about how the Pathways program has supported him and how it feels genuine excitement about planning his next speech. Joe is also competitive and does not mind the odd bit of recognition and has said he wants to achieve a Triple Crown.
Why did I tell you about Joe?
It is because just using one member as an example, he visited because a Toastmaster member encouraged him to try it. He joined because of the quality of experience that his club offered him, and he enrolled on Pathways and discovered what a fantastic journey it really can be.
Have a think about who you can encourage to visit your club, how you can contribute to the quality of your club – and do check whether you or members of your club has correctly enrolled on Pathways – 800 of our members are still missing out!
For those club or district officers that are responsible for putting on contests this time of year, first of all thank you for your efforts in this important area, but please don’t forget to check the latest edition of the speech contest rulebook to ensure we don’t have any problems along the way.
If you do have any questions about contests – please do not hesitate to get into contact!
Best of luck to all contestants and I look forward to seeing the Area winners at a Division contest soon!
Steve Vear DTM
Program Quality Director