Viewpoint: May Toastmasters Be With You...Always

Viewpoint: May Toastmasters Be With You...Always

A message from our International President

Thirty years ago, The Empire Strikes Back, a movie sequel to Star Wars, was released. That movie told the next exciting chapter in the Star Wars saga. After an amazing two hours of cinema, the film unexpectedly ended with numerous questions left unanswered. Was Darth Vader really Luke Skywalker’s father? Would Han Solo be rescued? Who was the other Skywalker? As a child, I was devastated knowing I would have to wait three long years until the next movie to learn the answers.

The future can be like that. Despite our best-laid plans or expectations, the journey is rarely what we would have imagined. Yet those unexpected moments are what make the journey so worthwhile.

Has your Toastmasters journey been what you expected? Mine has been much better than I ever anticipated! Fifteen years ago, I joined Toastmasters so I could deliver a speech without falling over from nerves. I never planned to become a club officer, or compete in speech contests, or attend a district conference. With encouragement from others and a keen curiosity, I took leaps of faith into the unknown. Those leaps have made all the difference in my life.

The future of Toastmasters International is very bright. In July, several changes commenced that will improve the services provided to all members around the world. All districts are now organized into regions; a new leadership role, called region advisor marketing, is in place; and the Board of Directors is reshaping into a more strategic governing body. The International Convention in August will have a new agenda for the first time in decades, which incorporates new International Speech Contest Semifinals, great education sessions and other innovative events.

Coming up ahead is an updated five-year strategic plan for Toastmasters, enhanced recognition programs for areas, divisions and districts, and a brighter spotlight on leadership. Technology will become an even greater focus in the year ahead, helping members to engage even more deeply in all facets of the Toastmasters program without the barriers of geography or time. The future is indeed bright.

We have dedicated and creative volunteer leaders at every level of our organization who work diligently to serve you. The professional and caring World Headquarters staff works every single day to serve you and make your Toastmasters experience better. Hundreds of thousands of people are waiting to take the leap of faith to join Toastmasters and need your encouragement and support to do so. What does your Toastmasters future hold?

Eventually, the Star Wars movies had a happy ending. Toastmasters members have a million blissful beginnings every day. The future is brilliant. Embrace the journey. May Toastmasters be with you...always.

Gary Schmidt, DTM
International President