I did my 4th speech from the Competent Communicator manual today. Here is my speech.
Madam Toastmaster. Fellow Toastmasters. Welcome guests.
On February 4th, I went to a leadership session called Toastmasters Leadership Institute. It was the first ever Toastmasters Leadership Institute, or TLI, held on Vancouver Island. TLI had a mixture of club officer training sessions and various sessions on leadership topics. There were 12 leadership training sessions covered a wide range of topics such as mentoring a new member, hosting a productive meeting, and being a visionary leader. The purpose of my speech today is to share my TLI experience with you. I went to six presentations that day and left feeling like a new man. Out of those six presentations, I’m going to tell you about two of them and my take away messages from each presentation.
My morning started off by Jennifer Oakes talking about characteristics of effective leaders. Jennifer led an interesting discussion session on everyone’s favourite leaders and leadership styles. I like the audience reaction when this question was asked, “Was Hitler a good leader?” A lady in back yelled, “He was a terrible man!” A guy from the front said, “Well, he was the leader for Germany for 11 years.” Then a series of questions were asked, “Do leaders have to have followers?” “Do leaders have to influence followers?” “Can followers influence leaders?” I felt like my brain was being questioned and influenced in a different way. It definitely made me become more aware of the influence component of leadership. My take away message from Jennifer’s presentation, and this is also one of the characteristics of effective leaders, was that leadership is the capacity to influence others to achieve worthwhile results. As you are walking out of this room today, I want you to ask yourself this question, “Did I influence someone today?”
After lunch, which was provided by Toastmasters International, James Sultan gave us an amazing talk. It was one of the most encouraging and inspiring presentations I’ve ever attended. Jim is our current International Director for Region 1. There are total 14 geographical regions around the world in Toastmasters International organization. I was blown away by how well-spoken Jim was! Jim’s title of his presentation was “If you build it, they will come and stay”, and he talked about how to build an organization and keep your members motivated to reach their goals. There were so many take away points from his speech. Jim talked about teaching through repetition and reinforcement. Coming from a traditional Chinese upbringing, I can certainly testify learning through repetition. I vividly remember myself solving math questions after math questions, repeatedly writing Chinese characters pages after pages, and reciting poem after poem. Teaching through repetition is what we do here in Toastmasters. We come to our weekly meetings to practice public speaking, think on the spot, and provide feedback to support each other’s growth. Jim also talked about show up and show confidence. They say showing up is half the battle. In fitness, I believe exercising 30 minutes per day is winning half the battle to defeat obesity. In Toastmasters, showing up to meetings is half the battle to overcome your inner fear of public speaking. Jim also talked about, “if you are not having fun, you are not doing it right”. This is my personal take away message from Jim’s speech. Let’s make public speaking fun. We’ll learn from repetition, keep practicing, and before you know it, you are having a great time in front of your audience. Now I want you to do me a favour. When turn off your bedroom light as you crawl under your cozy blanket on your comfy bed, I want you to ask yourself, “Did I have fun today?”
Toastmasters Leadership Institute answered many of my puzzles on the success of the organization. Did you know that Toastmasters International, as a non-profit, educational organization, it has 270,000 members in close to 13,000 clubs across 116 countries? It achieved its success by providing seminars and workshops like TLI to continuously improve its members. Fellow toastmasters, be proud that you belong to such an inspiring organization. My most welcome guests, I extend my friendly hand to invite you to join us, to influence others and be influenced, and let’s simply have some fun.