“Why did you join Toastmasters?“
Our PRM, Mohan Padamati, asked this question at each of the Officer Training events this winter. It’s an important question, one we should revisit often to keep ourselves motivated and on track with our goals.
The answers were what you would expect: increase confidence presenting, networking, grow professional leadership skills, get better at public speaking, etc., etc.
What are you doing to push yourself towards your goals?
What are you doing to step outside your comfort zone?
How are you challenging yourself to grow?
This weekend I had the pleasure of participating in District 53’s FebFest Event and watching numerous brave Toastmasters take massive leaps in their journey. We all know how intimidating it can be to step up to the podium in our clubs. These speakers chose to stretch outside of their club bubble and walk onto a larger stage. And they did not disappoint.
The event consisted of three sessions:
- 1pm Pecha-Kucha
- 2pm Speech-a-thon
- 3pm Table Topics Marathon
The first session of the day was a Pecha-Kucha led by the wonderful Norm Thibodeau. If you’ve never seen this style of speech before, it is an amazing test of a speaker’s skills. A Pecha-Kucha consists of 20 slides set to display for 20 seconds each, resulting in a 6 minute and 40 second speech. The slides advance automatically and the speaker must time their speech to match their prepared slides. As a Toastmaster still fighting to get any speech under 7 minutes, I was quite impressed. There is little room for error and preparation is key to success.
The five Pecha-Kucha speakers were:
- Russell Kenny
- Vijaya Karunakar
- Amy Chiu
- Anthony Sariol
- Norm Thibodeau
After the Pecha-Kucha, we moved on to the Speech-a-thon session led by yours truly. It was a privilege to take on the emcee role for this portion of the event. Each speech carried it’s own unique message, while also beautifully weaving together to offer us all motivation and powerful life lessons.
Sugan Kumar kicked things off sharing his experiences being on his death bed and fighting though a brain injury at a young age. He reminded us to face challenges with strength and practice gratitude for all of the blessings in our lives, because we never know when they will be taken away.
Ann Canfield‘s speech gave us action steps for how to show that gratitude towards others by seeking first to understand. She reminded us that curiosity and active listening moves us much faster towards solutions when there is tension and challenges.
Russell Kenny reminded us of the truth made famous by the Serenity Prayer: focus on what we can control, our own reasoned choices, and let go of that which we cannot control.
To bring the message home, Anthony Sariol inspired us to take action, to step up and do something with the opportunities we have been gifted.
Each speaker showed up for the day with their own unique speech and no collaboration. It was fascinating to watch it all come together into a beautiful message for us all.
To round out the afternoon, Thomas Farrelly led us all through a Table Topics Marathon, bringing compelling questions in a variety of areas. Everyone got a chance to participate and practice their impromptu speaking skills, including our District Director, John Hogan, and our Programs Quality Director, Patti Walters. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know some of the leaders in our district, as well as fellow Toastmasters.
We all have our own unique reasons for joining Toastmasters, but each of us begin with a goal in mind. We want to become better, braver, bolder. We seek to expand our skills and our network. Personal growth and development is a challenging path to walk alone. Our District 53 leaders are hard at work creating opportunities, like FebFest, to allow space for us to blossom into powerful communicators and leadership.
If you missed out on this awesome event, you’re in luck! There is an even bigger opportunity on the horizon.
Come join us at the District 53 Conference in Springfield on May 6th and surround yourself with like-minded people striving to achieve goals just like yours. Get all the details and register at: d53tm.org/district-conference/