In my opinion, your Toastmaster membership allows you to develop almost any skill needed to be as successful as you choose to be. I have asked members for over 20 years, “How’s your membership going?”, the responses range from great to lousy and everything in-between.
The focus of this article is getting MORE from your membership by stepping outside the club into competition and participating in Area, Division, and District contests.
Kay’s top 10 reasons to ALWAYS say YES to contests (in no particular order):
- Prejudices – regardless of your role, you can become aware of your own prejudices. Becoming aware is the first step in change. For example, as a judge, do you really forget all previous performances by the contestants? Do you favor the underdog, first contestant, male, female, young, old, etc.?
- Nerves – Nerves are really your friend. Hopefully the nerves will encourage you to practice more, rehearse, visualize, ask questions, and/or use existing suggestions or checklists.
- Organizational Skills – The actual contest is clearly defined by the Contest Rulebook with appropriate forms. Some of the other aspects of holding a contest involve finding locations, negotiating contracts, registration, soliciting raffle prizes or donations, printing programs, ordering plaques/trophies, marketing/promotion campaigns, and/or decorating.
- Delegation – Contests have so many tasks, no one person can do everything no matter who you are. Practice giving up control and learn delegation skills by participating in contests.
- Creativity – Contests are well-defined but themes can be chosen. When you are the presiding officer choosing a theme helps create excitement and participation by other members. Appoint a Decorations Chair, ask your Marketing, Promotion, Registration, and Printing chairs to use your theme.
- Write/Edit a Speech – Compete. Every club deserves to send their best representative to the Area Contest. Competition sharpens your skills twice as fast as giving a club speech plus competition could help you discover your passion. Don’t we all have a cause/belief that we hold dear and are willing to stand up for?
- Educate – No two people have the same exact family, education, and/or life experiences. Your viewpoint and/or experiences may help others in their development. Just as an act of kindness can turn a bad day into a good day – you may be the one who will make that all important difference in another member’s life on that day.
- Team building – Whether you compete or play a role in a contest, it takes a Contest Team to make it a success. Teamwork involves respect for self and others, a plan, a timeline, regular follow up, and a clearly defined Leader supported by their committee chair people and their committees.
- Sharing – I was raised with the saying “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” Translation – kind supportive positive words delivered in a gentle tone will keep new and experienced members by your side. The opposite – do I really need to say it?
- Mentor – Mentors are always needed. My favorite phrase is “I don’t know what I don’t know” is loved and hated. It is loved by all of us who have screwed up in front of others. It is hated by those with experience (the mentor) who choose to be silent and watch the train wreck happen. Be a great mentor – ask questions and clarify each members’ understanding.
Every day is a new day with an abundance of lessons available for learning. The next time Contest season knocks on your door, answer it with a “YES”. You may discover your passion, your next super friend, or better yet, the stronger, powerful, confident and super successful person neatly tucked away in the back of your heart. Just say YES.
Kay Collis, DTM PRA PDG
Secretary and Treasurer