Viewpoint: On the Road...with Toastmasters

Viewpoint: On the Road...with Toastmasters

A message from our International President

In any given year, the International President of enjoys the privilege of visiting about a dozen of Toastmasters districts around the world. It’s an opportunity to see first-hand what sort of shape our members are in, and how they are shaping their worlds. At the time of writing (on a plane somewhere between Vancouver and Los Angeles), Carole and I have already visited Districts 11, 43, 40 and 21. From Louisville to Memphis, from Dayton to Harrison Hot Springs, we have been warmly welcomed, delightfully entertained, well fed, worked hard…and met hundreds of Toastmasters in the process!

No matter where we go, we are continually impressed with our members’ enthusiasm for the Toastmasters program, and our volunteer leader’s energetic spirit. We also notice the differences in the “culture” from district to district, different ways of delivering our tried and true Toastmasters programs. To me this once again proves the versatility and adaptability of our programs: what works in Little Rock, Arkansas, also works in Campbell River, British Columbia. By extension, the formula also succeeds in Taipei and Munich, Chicago and Ottawa…and wherever you live!

Why is this? I think it’s because Toastmasters International has come of age as a truly international organization. Our communication and leadership tracks are designed to enable men and women to shape themselves, regardless of where they live in this world. In fact, the growing appetite for our programs and services is a huge blessing to our organization – and it presents a huge challenge. Your Board of Directors, supported by the fine folks at WHQ, is responding to this challenge through our “governance reshaping project”; I’ll write more about this in future Viewpoints.

From my conversations with so many first-timers at these conferences, it’s obvious to me that the conference itself has a shaping effect on our newer members, and that they in turn help to shape the conference and the district. Personally, I find it very refreshing to hear the views of men and women who have only just discovered Toastmasters. Note to all of us who have been around for five years or longer: Listen to the newcomers – they have great ideas about the shaping influence of Toastmasters on themselves, and the shape of our organization as a whole! Note to those of you who have not yet attended your first district conference: Don’t miss the next one! It will open your eyes to the world of opportunities beyond the club!

By the time you read this, the holiday season will be here for most of our members. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas, Chinese New Year or Ramadan, or countless other seasonal events, Carole and I wish the very best for you and your families. It’s a great time of year to be thankful for the opportunities we have to shape ourselves and to shape our world!

Chris K. Ford, DTM
International President