DTM II, Electric Boogaloo
As I am nearing the end (for now) of my Toastmasters Journey it’s time to reflect.
I joined Toastmasters to be like my Big Brother Bob. Bob is a professional public speaker, leadership coach and published author. I wanted to be just like him. Confident, eloquent, and charismatic. What I got out of Toastmasters was much, much more.
Before Toastmasters, I was shy, and insecure and could not talk to people at a party without “liquid” courage. Now I seek out the shy person to start a conversation and I can go to the CEO and start a discussion. I cried, shook and almost passed out after my first icebreaker speech. Now I can give a speech without fear. I also love to compete.
I have always hated getting my picture taken. Now because of the pandemic and how District 42 responded, I love being on camera. Love may be a strong word, let’s say “I don’t mind”.
Leadership isn’t something I have been interested in. My first District leadership role was as Finance Manager. I am an accountant by trade and admittedly this was a role I felt more comfortable with. I only pursued this position, after I realized I was the District leadership requirement short of receiving my DTM award for the first time. Thank you, Carolyn Kaldy for believing in me. I found the role very interesting and although the role is about numbers, I learned a lot about writing an email. Who knew?
Since then, I have always volunteered to be in some sort of district leadership role or committee. I have been an Audit Chair, Pathways Ambassador and Parliamentarian. I was honoured to be on the District Leadership Committee and Division B Director.
I also found myself always volunteering to be in Club leadership. I have held every role in Club leadership. My favourites are Treasurer and VP of Education.
Also included in this portion is completing a project. My least favourite thing to do is a High-Performance Leadership project. Again, this was something I did my best to avoid. However, this is where I had the best learning and personal growth. I learned delegation, different styles of communication and team building. These skills have come into play with being a marriage commissioner.
As a numbers person, time management has come easy to me. But let’s go back to the first icebreaker speech, it was over 14 minutes. What I didn’t know was translating the written word to spoken time. I now know exactly how long seven minutes is. (700 – 840 words). Knowing this comes in handy for competing and keeping meetings on time.
Prior to Toastmasters, any feedback received was taken as a personnel insult. Granted, feedback is difficult to give, especially in a constructive way. Not only do we learn in Toastmasters how to give feedback to help people grow and succeed, but we also learn to accept that feedback is given to help us grow and succeed. Now when I am given ineffective feedback, I listen for the intent, not the insult.
Pathways level two project, Understanding Your Communication Style teaches you there are four different styles of communication. I would say with those four styles there are varying degrees of those styles. Knowing that helps you to listen to that person. My husband likes to discuss things and analyze the situation. I am direct and to the point. That can cause frustration and miscommunication. I can listen to him now knowing that is what he needs, and he can cut back a bit knowing I like to get to the point.
Learning how to effectively evaluate means you need to listen. The only drawback is every time a non-Toastmaster gives a speech all you hear is Umm, ahh, so, butum. Lol
These are just a few skills I learned from Toastmasters. I never went into Toastmaster to get a Distinguished Toastmaster Award but now I have two. Why, did I embrace the program, I took myself out of my comfort zone and kept myself involved and kept learning. Now I am leaving to pursue a future with the skills I have learned. I know I will miss many aspects of Toastmasters and I know I need to keep practicing all the skills I learned.
If I were to recommend the “must do’s” of the Toastmasters program, I would say. Make sure you get involved in Club Leadership. Take the Club Leadership training whether you are in Club leadership or not. Volunteer to assist and then coordinate a Speechcraft or Youth Leadership. Get involved in District Leadership. Be an Area Director. Compete in contests and when competing go to Circle of Gold, in your Division or District. Find a way to do the Level 3, project, Motivational Strategies, Understanding Emotional Intelligence. This project goes into emotional intelligence deeper than the level three elective Focus on the Positive.
Most of all I will miss all the people I have met. Everyone I have met has influenced me in one way or another. If I were to mention everyone who has mentored or helped me, this blog would go on forever. I want to thank everyone who has influenced me and all the Clubs I have been involved with for supporting me. Without all of you, the Toastmasters program would have not worked for me.
“There is no such word as CAN’T.”
(Betty Chartier – My Mom)
Laurel Wingert, DTM