A guest at this week’s Toastmasters shared a revelation that coincided with this week’s theme of “Contrary to Popular Beliefs.” He admitted that he thought joining Toastmasters was going to be about him. About him making speeches. About him learning how to be a better communicator.
What he didn’t know was that Toastmasters is really about hearing other people’s stories. Connecting with others. It’s about . . . others.
When I used to dragon boat, there were three stages of paddler awareness. The first stage was beginner. This is the awkward stage where you are focused on what you are doing and whether you are doing it right. Your awareness was only for the bench you were on.
The second stage of awareness developed over time. Eventually, the paddler realized that if they moved in sync with the bench in front of them and behind them, the paddles didn’t bang together as much. The awareness circle widens just a bit to the benches around them.
The third stage was when the paddler realized that their bench, their pod was part of the entire effort. All ten benches working together is what gives the boat lift and glides it through the water.
When we join Toastmasters, it is easy to see what it is we want to do. What we need help doing. Our focus is on our personal challenges or limits.
It’s only after a few meetings and a few experiences in the meeting roles that we start to realize how our presence helps to “lift” the meetings and “guide” others. It’s more than just our speeches — it’s listening, supporting and assisting others.
When we bring others into the mix, we care about the larger community. The boat. The club.
It is through the speeches, or stories we tell, that we are able to engage with the “boat.” People start to see the true person standing at the lectern. They see beyond our perceived short comings to the powerful person in each of us. Our teammate.
Contrary to popular belief, Toastmasters isn’t just about speeches. It’s about teamwork. It’s about others.
A few other highlights from this week’s meeting:
- Sandy W. delivered a persuasive speech on the Power of Punishment and how poverty of spirit, hope and finances has impacted our prison system.
- Michael W. shared his personal story of grief from the death of his dog with a beautiful poem. His realization that we never know what may happen was expressed in a self-composed song that he performed for us.
- Ria Q. took center stage for her first role as Toastmaster. Hats off to a job well done.
- Sheila C. offered us a laugh break with a joke she got from her children. It was her first time as Jokemaster and she knocked it out of the park like DiMaggio.
Note: Please sign up for roles for next week’s meeting. The theme is Say It With a Song!