I’m reaching the end of my presidential year with Casterbridge Speakers and so it’s an opportune time to share some of the many lessons that I have learnt. First of all I have enjoyed it. Being retired, it was great to be part of a team again. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed working with a great team towards a common objective. This brought me right up against the forgotten part of Toastmasters, which is developing leadership skills.
The role of President encompasses all the skills that you need in the world of work, the world of leisure, and of course, in just living in this complex world of people, culture and social media.
For me, the Toastmaster’s teamwork came to the fore in the middle of the year. The Committee supported me in developing our Marketing Strategy and the key target of achieving Select Distinguished Club. We had a slow start to the year and I became nervous of failing to achieve this target. The Committee reminded me that we were only half way through our year and to have faith in our marketing and teamwork delivering the target. Here I am in May, with two months to go, having achieved the target and pushing for Presidential Distinguished Club.
The public tend to see a Toastmaster as someone dressed in a red coat managing a big occassion where many speeches are made. Casterbridge Speakers is about developing the art of making the speech, but we do not dress-up to do it. (well some do!!)
There are many more communication and leadership development opportunities at Toastmasters, from the often neglected skill of mentoring someone, to the art of preparing a supportive evaluation. We have 16 roles in a Toastmaster’s evening. My favourite is being the Toastmaster, (no red coat required). If you are of a competitive frame of mind, Casterbridge Speakers Club is successful in speech and evaluation competitions at an Area Level; with aspirations to become even better.
I achieved my Competent Communicator Certificate in March 2013 and in the mean time I have only presented an occasional speech. This year I decided to enter the International Speech Competition, and despite being very nervous, I did reasonably well at Club Level. My lesson here was that to be good needs constant practice, both in preparing and presenting the speech. I also learnt that you have to keep making speeches to develop that all important stage craft. From now on I will be regularly presenting speeches for evaluation.
I am the only retired member of Casterbridge Speakers and I do it to keep my mind active and the adrenalin pumping. Casterbridge currently has 26 members; comprising of a wide range of occupations, ages and circa 50:50 gender mix. The Club is known for its friendliness, humour and success in developing people into being confident speakers.
Many of our members are essentially sole traders, working on their own, but constantly interacting with people as individuals or groups through their marketing and service delivery. Toastmasters provides them with a learning and supportive opportunity to hone their group leadership and communication skills.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my Presidential Year. It’s stimulating to be part of a successful team that has achieved recognition in both Club development and Competition success. If you are looking to build your communication and leadership skills, why not join me at Casterbridge Speakers and work your way to becoming President?
Thank you Casterbridge Speakers for your support. I’ve had a fun year.
Douglas Pigg, President