By Dinesh Jayabalan
The reason why our organisation is called Toastmasters International is because we are an international organisation, consisting of members from various countries and continents. Sadly however, not everyone gets to experience the true ‘Internationalness’ of the organisation because for many members — their life in Toastmasters only revolves around their respective clubs. To me however, I have always looked for opportunities to widen my horizon by making full use of my Toastmasters membership and one of the ways of doing so, is by constantly being engaged with the recent happenings in Toastmasters International World Headquarters.
With that said, when it was announced that leaders (The Top Three District Officers) together with Region Advisors, International Directors, Our First Vice President and the man who signs all our certificates (Our Chief Executive Officer Daniel Rex) were coming to Kuala Lumpur for their mid-year training, I made sure I attended the leadership forum to meet these reputable Toastmasters who have been serving their respective districts and regions. And this was certainly one of the highlights of my journey as a Toastmaster.
The leadership forum began with a presentation by Daniel Rex. He explained the rationale behind the notion why Pathways is the way to move forward. I was certainly impressed with the manner how he engaged with the audience and made his content to be unique and relatable to all of us. His sense of humour showed evidently when he compared Pathways to iPhones and the traditional program to traditional telephones that were used ages ago. The event continued with us hearing from our First Vice President who shared with us his journey and experiences about being a member of Toastmasters.
The key highlight of this event for me was the Leadership Forum that was held after the presentations. Various leaders were called to be panel members and the audience was given an opportunity to address their questions and concerns to the panellists. Distinguished Toastmaster Gowry, our Region Advisor, moderated the panel discussion.
I took this opportunity to pose a question that had been lingering in my mind for quite some time. My question to the panel was:
In our life and journey in Toastmasters, we will come across various points where we will feel tired and burned out. What would you say to a Toastmaster who feels burned out?
The panel member who responded to my question gave a clear explanation, agreeing that in our lives, we will come across such situations. Her suggestion to this question was to take a break and look forward to new challenges. If you haven’t served the club as an officer, do so. If you haven’t serve the district, do so. Look for new opportunities that will empower you to develop and grow to become a better person.
Some other interesting questions that were raised in the panel session were these matters:
1. How Speech Craft could be woven into the Pathways Education System.
Answer: World Headquarters is looking into this and a revised Speech Craft Program would be launched in the near future.
2. How does it feel like to be a young leader and serve the district?
Answer: Toastmasters benefits people of all ages and taking up leadership roles from a young age benefits those who are willing to learn.
3. Feasibility of Conducting Online Meetings
Answer: There are many clubs who already practice this and it is feasible if you have the right resources
4. Will there be new titles under the Pathways Education System? For example. Competent communicator and etc.
Answer: World Headquarters is working on making Pathways better and this will be looked into in the future.
5. Why do we now have Regional Quarter Finals in international speech contests?
Answer: There has been constant growth in the number of districts and there might not be enough resources to conduct more than 10 rounds of semi-finals during the Toastmasters International Convention.
The event ended with District 51 Leaders presenting a token of appreciation to the panellists and speakers. Many stayed back for a while for fellowship. All in all, this event was enlightening and enjoyable in which I got to see so many leaders and hear their stories. I was inspired and ‘recharged’ to serve my roles to the best of my abilities. Kudos to District 51 for pulling off such a great event!