Category Archives: Public Speaking / Toastmasters

Leading Several Toastmasters Clubs as Area Governor

There are many leadership opportunities in Toastmasters. One of those opportunities is serving as Area Governor – where one leads and oversees several clubs in a geographical area. I have been honored and privileged to serve as Area Governor of Area 53, District 31 (Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island) in the past Toastmaster year (July 2013 to June 2014). I am proud that during my tenure, my area has earned the President’s Distinguished Area award.

Area Governors help clubs succeed. They visit the clubs several times a year, determine the clubs’ strengths and weaknesses, create club success plans with club officers, encourage members to finish their speech and leadership projects, and help the club obtain new members. In addition, area governors facilitate area speech contests – one of the most important tradition in Toastmasters.

As Area Governor, I have encountered many challenges but the time and effort I spent has been well worth it. I met and worked with various people, learned to work with different personalities, and nurtured relationships. I guided a struggling club to become a great club. I have strengthened my leadership skills in the process, and learned how to truly motivate and inspire.

There are so many opportunities in Toastmasters to learn and lead. You just need to step up.

Toastmasters Is Also About Leadership

Many people join Toastmasters Club to improve their communications skills. But Toastmasters is not only about communications; it’s also about leadership. There is a leadership program that members can take advantage of to improve their leadership skills. In fact, before a member can become a distinguished Toastmaster – the highest Toastmaster educational award – one needs to complete both the leadership and communications tracks.

It makes sense that communications and leadership skills go hand in hand. Great communicators are great leaders, and great leaders are great communicators. Many areas of our society require leaders. People just need to step up and lead.

In Toastmasters, there are many opportunities to lead at the club, district, and international levels, thus improving our leadership skills. When I became a club president a year ago, I learned so many things including organizing events, motivating people, and managing the club. Now that I am an area governor, I have to face a new set of challenges, thus more opportunities to learn and lead.

The Important Things In Life

I delivered this speech for my “Advance Communication” Toastmasters project, speech #2 of the Specialty Speech manual, “Uplift the Spirit” project. Here it goes:

I can still remember everything, as if it only happened yesterday. I was 12 years old, in 6th grade. My friend and I skipped school one sunny day and went to a pond. I was so naive, I jumped into the pond without checking it first. It was 8 feet deep, and I barely knew how to swim. Then, my foot got stuck in the mud at the bottom. I panicked! I was drowning! I thought I was going to die that day. Then suddenly I felt my friend pull me out to safety.

Fellow Toastmasters and most welcomed guests, did you also have a near death experience? Did it change your perspective in life?

Recently, I was reminded again that life can be short. I was driving late one evening after attending a conference in Cambridge. I was so tired that night. The road is not my normal route and at an intersection in Leicester on my way home, I did not stop at a stop sign. I only realized it after I crossed the intersection. And I exclaimed, “What just happened?” Then, I checked my rear view mirror, I saw a large trailer truck crossed the intersection. What if I was 3 seconds late? I could have been hit by the truck.

Life can be short. We should make the most of it.

So how do we live life to the fullest. Well, let’s learn from the people in their deathbeds. Research shows that there are 3 common deathbed regrets. I’ll talk about these three common regrets. My nurse friend who worked at a hospice confirmed these to me.

The first one is, I wish I had pursued my dreams.

I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

We should pursue our own dreams — not what our parents, friends, or other people told us to pursue. If you want to be a musician – go for it while there is still time. Climb Mt. Everest. Take that job at a non-profit charitable organization. Don’t mind what others think about it.

When I was a kid growing up in the Philippines, I would dream of coming to America. America as I’ve read in books and watched in movies is nice and prosperous. So I pursued this dream. I took a computer engineering course which I thought would be in demand in America. After college, I worked in the Philippines for 3 years to gain experience, and I relentlessly pursued technology companies in the US. With perseverance and a little bit of luck, I was hired by a telecommunications company in New Jersey, and I realized my dream of coming to America.

I have other dreams such as to travel around the world and experience other cultures, and I’m working towards these dreams.

What about you? What are your dreams? Are you pursuing them?

The second common deathbed regret is, I wish I hadn’t work so hard.

I wish I had spent more time with family and friends than at work. People in their deathbeds do not cherish the long hours in the office . Instead they remember the time they spent with their families and friends.

The other day, after getting home very tired from work, my daughter Justine approached me, “Dad, can you help me with my homework?” I snapped at her, “Can’t you see I’m so tired from work, and I still have to mow the lawn?” She meekly said, “Ok Dad, maybe later.” But then I realized, I just told my daughter that she is not my priority. I thought hard about it, and I realized that I had my priorities wrong – my work is my first priority, then household chores, then my daughter/family. It should be the other way around!

People in deathbeds also wished they had stayed in touch with their friends.

I always planned to call my friends, but because of work, and other responsibilities, I always put it in the back burner and never really got the chance to call them. I will often say, “I’ll call them tomorrow, they will still be there anyway.” Well, I think I should be getting in touch with them before it’s too late.

The lesson here is to reach out to friends. Have a long chat over a glass of wine (or beer). Call them If they live very far away.

Fortunately, it’s now easy more than ever to stay in touch with friends, via Facebook. So if you haven’t been using Facebook yet, sign up and reconnect with your old friends.

The third common deathbed regret is, I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Too often we postpone happiness. I remember when I was in high school, I would often say, “I’ll be happy when I get to college.” When I was in college, I would often say, “I’ll be happy when I get a job.” Now that I have a a job, I would often say, “I’ll be happy when I retire.” “I’ll be happy if I win the lottery.” When my day gets challenging, I would often say, “I’ll be happy when this day is over.”

Then I realized that I will never be happy if I keep on postponing it. The present is all we’ve got. Today! Now! Be happy now, because tomorrow may never come.

So, open that expensive wine. Eat that delicious chocolate cake. Play ball with your son, or play pretend tea party with your daughter. Book that European vacation you’ve been longing for. Move to Florida if you love warm weather — although we’ll really miss you if you move out of Massachusetts. Buy yourself a kindle and read; whatever it is, be good to yourself. Also, be good to others, because making others happy makes us happy too.

It is hard to prioritize and do the important things in life. We always get caught up with daily activities – work, household chores, interruptions.

But I think, for me, that near-death drowning experience when I was a kid taught me a lesson – never skip school to go to the pond. But seriously, recalling that story every time reminds me to put my life in perspective and do the important things in life. Life is short, make the most of it.

Accomplishments as a Toastmaster Club President

As the Toastmaster year draws to a close, I am proud to say that our AbbVie Bioresearch Toastmaster club, where I am the President, achieved the President’s Distinguished Club award, the highest award a club can get. We obtained this award because:

1. two of our members completed the ten Competent Communicator speech projects;
2. two of our members completed the ten Advanced Communicator speech projects;
3. two of our members completed the ten Competent Leadership projects;
4. two of our members completed the Advanced Leadership projects;
5. we signed up 13 new members;
6. all of our officers were trained in both the summer and winter Toastmaster Leadership Institute (TLI) trainings;
7. we submitted our membership dues on time;
8. we submitted officers and members list on time;
9. and we maintained a membership base of 38.

In addition, our club sponsored a Youth Leadership Program, an eight-session, workshop-style program, designed to enable the youth to develop communication and leadership skills through practical experience. Our club also premièred the movie “Speak,” a powerful and inspiring documentary about conquering life’s hurdles and finding your voice.

We also held several Open Houses to attract new members and held Speech Contests to enhance our members educational experience.

All of these accomplishments were made possible because of the untiring and enthusiastic efforts of our officers and members.

Being a Toastmaster officer is challenging. I have to constantly motivate people to attend the meetings, volunteer for roles, and finish their communication and leadership projects. But it is a very rewarding experience. I learned practical skills on leadership, management and organization. I learned “people skills” such as interpersonal communication skills, conflict resolution, and patience. But there is no better reward than knowing that our club members are getting better in their speaking and leadership skills.

I signed up for an Area Governor position for the next Toastmaster year and I am looking forward to bigger challenges.

Top Ten Important Tasks for Toastmasters Club President

I am almost halfway through my term as president of the Toastmasters Club at Abbott Bioresearch, and I am glad to say that I am enjoying the challenge. As president, I set the tone and general direction of the club, and of course I want our club to be successful.

Here are the top ten important tasks of the president, I think, to make the club successful:

1. Together with the board, plan and set goals for the year as soon as your term starts. Aim to be a president’s distinguished club. Plan and schedule events such as regular meetings, membership drive, open houses, speech contests, and officers training.

2. Be a cheerleader at every meeting. Congratulate members on their accomplishments.

3. Open and close meeting with enthusiasm, and announce at every meeting the progress of the club goals.

4. Work closely with the VP of Education in filling out roles and making sure that the educational goals of the members are being met.

5. Work closely with VP of Membership and VP of Public Relations in holding open houses and recruiting new members.

6. Mentor new members. Make sure to guide them at least during their first three speeches.

7. Motivate members to finish their Competent Communicator award as soon as possible. Also, motivate members who do not regularly come to the meeting to participate more. Ask them to sign up for roles so that they will be obligated to attend the meeting.

8. Introduce yourself to guests and greet them enthusiastically.

9. Work closely with the treasurer to make sure dues are paid on time.

10. Be prepared to give speech anytime. Speakers make last minute cancellations and be ready to step up to fill in the speaking role.

Toastmasters International Speech Contest

I just won first place at the International Speech Contest at our Toastmaster at Abbott BioResearch Club today, March 13, 2011.  I was very honoured to compete against three other seasoned Toastmasters.

My speech was about how I lost weight and why my daughter inspired me.  The title of my speech was “Persevere, Overcome, Succeed.”  The event was very well attended.

I’ve been with the Toastmasters Club for more than five years and I have completed my Competent Communicator (CC) award last year.  But this is the first time I joined the speech contest.  There was a different feel to it compared with our regular Toastmasters bi-weekly meeting, knowing that I was competing. But, it was a very rewarding experience.  I had to write and practice my speech three weeks in advance.  I guess it paid off.

On to the Area E, District 31 speech contest on March 27, 2012.