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June 2024
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Members' Forum July 2020

An open platform for your tips, tactics, comments, and encouragement.

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“Participating in a speech contest is a great way to boost your confidence in public speaking.”

—Disna M. Weerasinghe, DTM


Large group of Toastmasters from London, England celebrating with hands in the air

In early March, Grosvenor Square Speakers of London, England, celebrated their club’s 40th anniversary. The club was established in 1980, and members believe it was the first Toastmasters club in London. They are proud to have achieved the President’s ­Distinguished Award every year since 2009. (Photo credit: Ryan Anderton)

Embrace Change

COVID-19 has brought much of life to a standstill, and Toastmasters are experiencing change too. Many clubs are grappling with the details of hosting virtual meetings, including how to master technology and convince all members of the benefits of making this effort.

Change is inevitable; what isn’t pre­ordained is our response. We have a choice to be positive in the face of difficulty. By focusing on the benefits of change, we have the opportunity to demonstrate leadership skills. Toastmasters across the world are trying new programs and learning online group etiquette. There will be bumps, but the online community is sharing successes and best practices. We are all here to help each other.

When this passes, we will have gained useful skills—skills we can use at work, in volunteer roles, and even with our families. Change forces us to add new tools to our tool belts for dealing with obstacles. It also strengthens our community by sharing our humanity during this difficult time. This is a shared experience, so bring out the best in others while you are being the best you can be. Embrace the change!

Sarah ChaffeeConcord, New Hampshire, U.S. Concord Toastmasters Club

Continuing Member Achievement

I wanted to share an exciting developing Toastmasters story that has come out of the coronavirus pandemic. The story of my career change from a clinical veterinarian to working in a congressional office was featured in the January 2020 edition of the Toastmaster magazine. As mentioned in the article, I develop lessons focused on One Health—a global initiative working for optimal health for people, animals, and our environment.

I have now created One Health lessons focused on the coronavirus to teach children where the virus likely came from, how we can protect ourselves (the reason for social distancing, washing hands, etc.), how viruses mutate, what scientists are now doing to protect people in the future, and how we can all take action to prevent a future infectious disease pandemic. Toastmasters clubs in Belgium, Hong Kong, and San Francisco are sharing and translating these lessons in their communities through teaching online classes. This allows for more public speaking practice for Toastmasters and enables them to give back to their communities.

Deborah ThomsonWashington, D.C., U.S. United States Senate Club

The Cherry on Top

Participating in a speech contest is a great way to boost your confidence in public speaking. It forces you to come out of the box and perform. Earning a place in a ­contest is only the cherry on top. Do not wait until you are ready to compete, because you will never feel ready. By participating in contests, I learned how to lose gracefully. When you diligently prepare and give it your all, losing can be very disappointing. However, that is how we grow as people and redirect our ­approaches and challenge ourselves.

After losing in a Division speech contest, I redirected my disappointment to focus on earning my Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) award, which I completed in February. Had I won the Division contest, I probably would not have had the motivation to become a DTM.

My advice is to participate in as many contests as possible. Focus on the journey. Whether you win or lose, your speaking skills improve significantly, and you will learn invaluable lessons such as how to redirect your disappointment—that is, if you lose.

Disna M. Weerasinghe, DTMDowningtown, Pennsylvania, U.S. Brunswick Toastmasters Club


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