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July 2024
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Are You Going to the International Convention?

Discover all that Toastmasters has to offer.

By Bill Brown, DTM

Toastmasters International resources webpage

It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating Toastmasters’ 90th anniversary. And here it is, the 100th. That is quite a milestone. Will you be at the International Convention, either in person or online?

I have been to three conventions and came away with four main benefits. I have listened to top-notch speakers, both in the International Speech Contest and in keynote presentations, and raised my own aspirations for how good of a speaker I can be. I have met Toastmasters from around the world and came away with a much bigger picture of the organization. I have attended the officer elections and seen the caliber of our International Officers. And I have come away with a much bigger understanding of what we have available in Toastmasters.

But what if you can’t make it to the convention? Can you still gain those benefits?

Attending an International Convention can help you attain a worldwide vision. But even if you aren’t able to go, you can still reap the benefits. A great way to do this is to view a recording of a past convention. Many are available On Demand, or you can go to the Toastmasters YouTube channel and watch winners from the World Championship of Public Speaking® and the candidates who received the Accredited Speaker designation.

By just taking advantage of the tools available online, you can expand your vision of Toastmasters. I am amazed at how much information and training is available on the Toastmasters website itself. There are 122 educational videos and over 250 episodes of The Toastmasters Podcast. In addition, there are tips on public speaking, online meetings, and hybrid meetings. You will find all of these under the Resources tab on the site.

Additionally, how much time have you spent in Pathways? I mean, really spent time in it. My observation is that members tend to go through the material quickly, so they can check the project off the list and get on to the next one. But each project is chock-full of information that is not usually available in a standard club meeting. Are you learning from it?

Your District has many events as well, both in person and online, so everyone can attend. If nothing else, I recommend that you attend the Area, Division, and District speech contests. You will learn a lot just by listening to some of the top speakers in your District.

And you should look for resources from the World Champions of Public Speaking and the Accredited Speakers. The Accredited Speaker Program is tailored to those who are professional speakers. Not only do these Toastmasters have great information to offer, but they each have a speaking style that is a cut above. And, of course, the World Champions are on a whole other level. I have learned a lot just by plugging into their resources.

In addition to expanding your vision of Toastmasters, you can also expand your vision of what you can accomplish with your own skills. As I listen to those exceptional speakers, I find myself saying, I can do that, too. And as I have participated in the speech contests, I have been challenged to become better and better with each level of the contest.

Toastmasters doesn’t just happen. It takes leaders at various levels to keep it moving forward. And that takes members who are ready and willing to take on leadership responsibility, be it as a club officer or just for a short-term event or project. If you have any leadership aspirations yourself, whether at work, in your community, or in your personal life, you have to gain experience. Toastmasters gives you the opportunity to do that. In addition to your club, leadership opportunities abound within your District.

By just taking advantage of the tools available online, you can expand your vision of Toastmasters.

Not only will you learn from the process, you will grow just by being around other leaders. I have learned over the years that if you want to gain expertise in an area, find people who are experts themselves. It is amazing what you can learn.

And, in the post-COVID era, many clubs are either online or hybrid. That gives you the opportunity to visit and even join clubs from around the world. Don’t be shy about attending a meeting.

Many people initially join Toastmasters to get over a fear of speaking. Hopefully that quickly fades, but Toastmasters goes way beyond helping people get over that fear. It can take you to the top of the speaking or leadership fields.

Are you gaining all that you can from Toastmasters? If not, maybe your vision of the organization is too small. Take some time to explore all that is available. And be sure to attend the convention. You will be glad that you did.


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