Viewpoint: Connecting in the 21st Century

Viewpoint: Connecting in the 21st Century

A message from our International President

I wrote my first term paper using a computer instead of a typewriter when I was in college in 1990. I called home to my parents on a rotary telephone. I would communicate with a fellow student in class by passing a handwritten note on a piece of paper.

In 1997, when I was an area governor, I communicated with my club presidents by telephone. I did not have e-mail. In 2001, when I was a district governor, Toastmasters International distributed District Performance Reports once a month by mail.

Technology has changed the way the world, and Toastmasters, operates. We now can communicate instantaneously via text message or on social networks using handheld devices like smart phones. We can send messages around the world that will be read or viewed immediately.

Technology provides innovative and creative ways to communicate to vast audiences in a timely manner. How do you and your club use technology to enhance and improve communication? Do you give speeches using PowerPoint? Does your club have a Web site? Or a Facebook fan page? Do you tweet? These are all tools to help expand the Toastmasters message to our members and future members.

Yet technology is just one of the many tools in our communications collection. It is not the only tool. Sometimes it is easier or quicker to communicate electronically rather than face to face. I certainly have sent a quick e-mail when I should have picked up a telephone. Or I had a hurried phone call instead of a face-to-face conversation. Toastmasters can teach us all how to be effective communicators, using the correct communication vehicle.

What will technology, and Toastmasters, look like in 2020, 2050 or 2100? The future is unknown, but the power of Toastmasters is timeless. I believe that Toastmasters will train women and men in the arts of communication and leadership for years to come, no matter how electronic communications evolve. Someday we may all chuckle at how we survived communicating using “just computers” or “only e-mail.”

Whether it’s face to face, voice to voice or keyboard to keyboard, Toastmasters helps us all become better communicators. The ability to connect with others, using many methods, is an essential trait for success. Keep learning, growing and adapting. Your journey of connecting with others begins now! (And now I must return to my Facebook page...)

Gary Schmidt, DTM
International President