Network For Service

If you’ve ever been to a networking event such as a conference or meetup (like Toastmasters), it’s natural to ask – “What’s in it for me? What will I learn from the people at the event? What will the organizers and speakers teach me?”. While this is a totally fair question to ask, sometimes it made me feel deficient of knowledge and experience, that I had to participate and learn to get something out of it.

Not too long ago, as I start thinking about going to my next big tech event. I end up receiving an email from the organizers promoting the conference. I get so excited by the line up of speakers and their talks, the venue and location, which I never been before! I was so exhilarated for my next travel adventure and going to this event that I almost miss the barely readable words at the footer of the email that read “Want to volunteer? Click here!”. This immediately gets me thinking – “Huh, I wonder who are behind the scenes. This is an enormous event and I wonder how much work it’s put before, during and after each of these conferences…”. Without hesitation and a good dosage of curiosity I Immediately start composing a new email inquiring about this volunteering opportunity.

Not too long in just a few days, I receive a reply from one of the organizers; I was in! I’ve volunteered before at few smaller events, but this one wasn’t only going to the my first time, but I’d be also going to volunteer at an event that was expected to receive thousands of people! The venue? A hotel that had hosted six presidents, The Beatles and was were the Oscar statue was first sketched, on a napkin. Though those are not the type of things that fascinate me too much, I thought it was pretty cool 🙂

The event venue

The day is finally here, and I hop on plane and travel all the way over to Los Angeles, CA. Where the conference is happening, and from day one I realize how much work is put into just to prepare things for the volunteers themselves. Most things were already unpacked and ready for us to begin organizing and sorting in preparation for the attendees. From filling up bags with some cool swags, to putting everything in place at the registration desks and making sure things are in order all around the venue, it took us hours, and I was very enthusiastic all the way throughout the first day.

The following day is finally time and I can’t wait to see how it’d all unfold. Thousands of people coming early morning to register and grab the best seats for the conference’s keynote speech and a first opportunity to network with their fellow other attendees. Right up-front, during the registration period signing people in, I get to greet and chat with so many people. For some, a few seconds to check them in, handout their badge, lanyard and wish them a great day ahead. For others, a first quick eye contact that open doors for more connection to happen on the days ahead. It’s fantastic to see people’s excitement in their eyes, it lights me up!

As a volunteer, I got to watch the most fascinating talks, was steps away from some of the brightest people our community has ever seen, met some of the most friendly people I’ve ever met and had close experience on what it takes to run the entire show. Would I have had such a blast hadn’t I decide to be at service to the community? I doubt it.

The most incredible and unforgettable experiences I’ve ever had in my life were rarely the ones I was receiving something, they were the ones where I was giving. Giving my time, my sweat and my heart. It’s never enough. Give to the people around you, your family, friends, your communities, and since we’re here, give to your fellow Toastmasters. 😉

My experience with Toastmaster Buddies!

My experience with Toastmasters Buddies is excellent. Since day one, which was in June 2019, my Buddies:

  1. Showed great care in my progress
  2. Showered me with positive and
  3. Constructive feedback

Which did miracles with regards to my communication and leadership skills.

Rediscover yourself in communications, leadership, mentorship, creativity and much more. We will promise you that you will not get bored.

Besides creating and delivering your speeches based on different projects, there are different challenging roles you can take during the weekly meetings. Sometimes….. multiple roles, which really prepares you for multi-tasking and still remain calm.

Our Buddies are all over the world, so you will learn and get evaluated by individuals with different perspectives and cultural background.

YES… this is the message you were waiting for….. and YES, take yourself to the next level with Toastmaster Buddies. Join us today!

By Toastmaster member Ingeborg Sint Jago

Goal Setting

After listening to a very inspiring and relatable speech by one of our Buddies on journaling, I began to reflect on my own life and given the time of year, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to focus on goal setting. 

For most of us, the end of one year is a time for reflection and setting goals for the upcoming year. For me, this is a pivotal aspect of my life. I have set goals for every area of my life such as travel (being such a travel enthusiast, I have travel plans set out for the next 5-7 years), savings, personal development, even as a Toastmaster I have goals set for completing my pathways projects.

As I grow older, my appreciation for the importance of setting goals and sticking to them deepens. This first hit me when I was in my very early twenties and attended an interview. The interviewer asked the famous “Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?” At that point in time I was lost for words not knowing how to answer this. Of course I knew I needed a job because I wanted to travel, I wanted a car and to be able to afford certain luxuries so I needed an income but the interviewer did not want to hear this. That’s when I realised I needed to have goals to work towards. Over the years I have tweaked my processes a lot and always do because things are always changing but one thing remains the same is that I set goals. I have an idea of what I hope to have accomplished and where I want to be 1, 5, 10 or even 20 years from now. 

Setting goals allows us to sharpen our focus and gives your life direction. It also provides a map which show what areas you are actually succeeding at and which areas require improvement. Looking at goals from a yearly perspective may seem daunting at first. The secret is to break these up into smaller chunks so you can have yearly goals broken up intomonthly goals, weekly goals and daily goals. 

One of the main things I covered while studying which has stuck with me is that you set goals which motivate you and S.M.A.R.T. goals. SMART goals mean:

S – Your goals should be clear and well defined. 

M – Include precise amounts, dates, etc. so you can measure your degree of success. 

– Make sure that it’s possible to achieve the goals you set. 

R – Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. 

T – Goals must have a deadline. This means that you know when you can celebrate success. 

I also found that visualisation helps me to achieve goals. So post your goals in visible places to remind yourself every day of what it is you intend to do. You can post them on sticky notes on your walls, desk, computer monitor, bathroom mirror or refrigerator as a constant reminder. Accomplishing goals take work. You simply don’t set goals and wave a wand. You work at it and keep working at it everyday until it is complete.There will be stumbling blocks along the way but keep pushing forward and you will get there. 

If you haven’t yet done so, I hope that this encourages you to set some goals for the upcoming year J

Written by Buddies member, Jamieann Wells-Fletcher

What if you fail on stage?

Today I gave a speech at my physical Toastmasters club.

[about a week ago…]

I go on Toastmasters website, click on Basecamp, pick my “Innovative Planning” Pathways curriculum, select project for level 3 which states the following purpose — “Become aware of his/her thoughts, feelings and responses on the audience as well as a two-week assignment on turning negative thoughts into positive”.

I immediately thought — “hmmm, how? I need to find situations that I tend to think negative about and feel a lot of weird stuff inside… but what?”

If you’re anything like me, these thoughts and feelings may seem familiar:

  • “I can’t do it”
  • “I’m not ready”
  • “I’m feeling anxious”
  • “I’m feeling nervous”

Do you notice a pattern of these in a specific situation in your life? Where does this normally happen?

FREAKING PUBLIC SPEAKING

To me, it’s a love and hate relationship still, but hopefully not for too long. Either way, I think and feel a lot when the opportunity appears and it gets closer to the event.

I then decided to take a step further and make it a bit more intense; — “What if I don’t prepare my speech at all? Completely wing it and see what happens? Will I freak out? What different sorts of thoughts and feelings will arise? Will I fail terribly and pass out on stage?!”

Well, that’s what the assignment is about. So I decided take up the challenge.

Isn’t it funny how much control we want in life? The tendency was to at least mentally think about my opening or closing, or some points I could bring up during my speech. It was hard! Apparently it’s harder not to prepare a speech than it is to prepare, rehearse and do it! There’s this innate need to control the situation whenever possible. Quite modestly, I can give decent speeches once I’m given a topic, enough time to prepare and practice. It became easier and easier as my time in Toastmasters went on and I was completing project after project. The challenge though, is standup on a stage with dozens of people for 5-7 minutes and speak. For some this might be a piece of cake, but for me is almost as bad as my own heart-attack.

As the day of my speech approaches, my mind keeps wanting to think about some ideas for my speech, even though I didn’t jot anything down. The need for control was intense, I wanted more certainty! But I insisted and kept my mind occupied with other subjects and concerns as much as possible.

The date and time finally arrived. I’m not going to lie, nervousness, anxiety, excitement, fear and much more was felt right before it was time, as well as countless well-known negative thoughts of “You’re going to fail”, “Everyone will see that you’re a fake speaker”, “You can only give prepared speeches”, “People will no longer want to connect with you”, “Not today, do another day” and much much more that I could write an entire journal on…

It’s finally time. The Toastmaster of The Day introduces me, I step up on stage and the result? Normal. Yes, just normal. It was surprisingly calming and peaceful up there. A feeling of comfort and surrendering poured over my body, I realized was OK. It’s OK to not know anything I was going to talk about, it’s OK to be nervous or having a lot of thoughts, it’s OK to not be always prepared, it’s OK to experiment and try something new, it’s OK to feel, it’s OK to fail.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it was my best speech with the most amazing subject. Though it was my best internal preparation and performance.

Where else would I be able to have a safe space where I can try these sorts of things out? To me, only at a Toastmasters club.

Attitude of gratitude, here we go again…

The first time I heard this sentence, it came out with a disgustingly childish tone from the person who mentioned while I listened to a podcast episode at the time; “The attitude of gratitude, bleeeeehhh…”. It kind of pinched my heart a bit, because I respected the podcast host and his show, and thought it wasn’t a funny joke. I brushed it off at the time, but whenever I hear the word “gratitude” I have flash backs of the event.

I used to journal pretty consistently for about a year, and one of the things I’d write about is a list of three things I am grateful for in that day. As you might have noticed, I said “I used to journal”. I haven’t been in almost 2 years by now and wasn’t planning on continuing. Until I stumbled upon a Innovative Planning Pathways project called “Focus on the Positive”.

This seemed like a different project than the other ones I’ve done before. Its main assignment was to not only prepare a speech on a given theme, but also keep a journal for two weeks, with three things you’re grateful for, and write about negative things you’re seeing in life and rephrase them as positive.

The moment I read the assignment I thought to myself “An attitude of gratitude, bleeeeeehhhh….” just like that Podcast guy. But then immediately switched to thinking about how much I’ve done it before during my journaling days, and that I actually might enjoy giving a speech on my experience with how much or how little that assignment has changed me.

Although I’m only a few days into my assignment, I honestly am feeling more optimistic, resilient, seeing the bright side of many situations, appreciating people and things more and overall feeling lighter and even happier.

I’m not sure whether I’ll keep journaling past the two-week assignment or not, but all I can say is that I’m enjoying it today and am grateful for finding this project in good timing.

I’m looking forward to give my speech on it soon!