Viewpoint: As Toastmasters, We're "...Shaping Our World"

Viewpoint: As Toastmasters, We're

A message from our International President.

Last month, I shared with you my thinking about my theme: Toastmasters: Shaping Ourselves...Shaping Our World, specifically the “Shaping Ourselves...” part. So what’s the “Shaping our World” piece all about? Simply stated, it’s the effect or outcome achieved when we apply externally what we have learned internally. To my way of thinking, all the communication and leadership skills we develop through Toastmasters are of limited value unless we export them to our worlds outside the Toastmasters club.

One of the most rewarding opportunities I’ve experienced recently is volunteering with the Canadian Diabetes Association. I was part of a leadership team for the creation of a Speakers Bureau. I developed a communications training plan with fellow Toastmaster Chris Fraser and later got involved in advocacy at the provincial and national levels. The ultimate aim of the Speakers Bureau was to make a difference in the lives of people living with diabetes. This is what I mean by “self-shaping” contributing to “world-shaping.”

What are your worlds outside Toastmasters, and how are you shaping them? Community associations, workplace project teams, charities, minor-league sports teams – these worlds you live in are crying out for accomplished communicators and leaders, and that’s where you, the Toastmaster, can make a big difference! Now some may think I want to turn TI into a worldwide “do-gooder” organization. Not exactly! We already do a tremendous amount of good for our members, and you and I both know that. What I am encouraging you to think about are the reasons you joined Toastmasters in the first place. It’s a safe bet you didn’t want to develop communication and leadership skills just to apply within the club. No, it’s because you had a need to shape your world, and you recognized that if you were going to be successful, you first had to shape yourself.

So when you’re out there shaping your world, let your world know how you became the confident leader, the skilled communicator that is the “new you.” You are the best marketing tool Toastmasters ever invented! Your friends, family and colleagues have observed how you have shaped yourself in order to shape your world; they’ll want a part of the action too! As our organization’s founder, Dr. Ralph Smedley, put it: “While most of us may have entered Toastmasters to learn to make speeches, that benefit is but the beginning of the good which may come to us, and the good we may do for mankind.” It is as true today as it was when Dr. Smedley penned those words in 1955.

Chris K. Ford, DTM
International President