The New Retirement Project

Contributed by Michael Worsfold

When I joined Toastmasters in 2014, I was a retired management consultant, still doing coaching, mostly with business people. My motivation for joining was to expand my local community and grow my ability to speak about my coaching work in public. I used my speeches to clarify my thinking and practice communicating parts of what I was doing. I also learned to get out of my comfort zone by doing humorous speeches and learning to tell stories.

I never expected that five years later Toastmasters would be the incubator for a new venture I call The New Retirement Project.

The New Retirement Project and the New Retirement blog are about exploring new perspectives and new strategies for well-being in retirement; finding order, meaning, purpose and adventure.

Read more about the project in an eight-part series beginning here. 

The Wall, the Wobble, and the Wilderness

a wall with a door in it. Toastmasters are always improving their craft. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes wonder ‘what was I thinking’ when we committed to giving a particular speech. Especially when it’s the night before and we’re panicking and hitting a wall.


Maybe it’s not coming together and we’re worried we’ll look like idiots.

Or maybe it’s the wrong topic that has us in a panic.

Maybe it’s just not quite the right fit. Recently, someone had one speech ready and then when the moment came, she felt inspired, and delivered a completely different speech that what she’d planned.


What if it’s about taking a bigger risk and stepping on to a new learning edge? What if feeling unprepared just means the process for creating speeches has changed from the first moment we stand behind the lectern and deliver (or read!) our Icebreaker speech?

This idea was brought home to me in my recent experience giving a speech about the Wall, the Wobble, and the Wilderness..

And one other W too. You can read more about it here.

Rough Around the Edges

Written by PJ, Morningstar’s Past President

The Toastmaster role is so challenging that it’s rare to see someone take it to a new level, as Sheila did this morning. Sheila decided to reinvent the Chair’s opening gambit.

Walking to the lectern, she launched into a story without so much as a Hello, without a single word of fanfare. The story was so witty and sexy and honest that I momentarily forgot where I was and what we were supposed to be doing there at Harmony Hall.

Turns out the story was an excerpt from Sheila’s personal memoir. (I’ll buy a dozen!) She depicted a younger version of herself, a person with a self-image that was “rough around the edges.” Which—Ta-da!—was the meeting’s theme.

If Sheila’s smooth experiment was an antidote to the “rough” theme, she succeeded tremendously. And what better place to deploy Speechcraft expertise than at the start? Beginnings are potent. We remember them. They set the pace.

I should know a bit about beginnings, since my most recent speech concerns “getting to the point.” Having rewritten the talk for four different occasions, I’ve discovered that getting to the point is a many-faceted thing.

“The point” is not only the core message of a presentation, but it should give the audience a damn good reason to invest valuable time in listening further. A classy start such as Sheila’s was this morning gave us the feeling that we were in the hands of a pro. Which encourages us all to relax. Which helps us all perform our own roles at our smoothest best. (Grammar police!)

And talk about smooth!

William ever so smoothly interpreted another author’s formula for success in life.

Katherine’s smooth report of her High Performance Leadership project (an executive manual) belied a lot of rough, tough work over the past nine months. Thanks, Kat!

And I give Kay special recognition for saying in her “Inspiration” that the iceberg that sunk the Titanic was obviously “rough around the edges.”

Okay, I need one more bit of clever word-play to close this piece—here goes:

Reflecting on Sheila as Chair this morning, I see a relatively new Morningstar who has come a long way in a short time. A little rough around the edges only a few months ago, Sheila has polished her skills to a degree that astonishes all of us. Of Sheila we can say without a doubt that here is one Toastmaster who is no longer a diamond in the rough.


See you next week.