Once a person gets a glimpse of experience in publiс speaking community of Toastmasters, one will never remain the same. Toastmasters – as an approach to life – changes our perception towards our own strengths and weaknesses. And helps us change … forever.
The greatest impact we can experience in Toastmasters happen during conferences. In Poland, within the District 108, the latest such country-wide Toastmasters conferences are called “Toastmasters effect”. Indeed, the effects are multifold 😊
On 21-23 February 2020 the Toastmasters Winter Effect under the title “WidziMisie” (word play for both: “see you” and “sees teddy bears”) was organized in Białystok, the easternmost foothold of the Polish Toastmasters.
#1. What did this event give the 220 conference participants from Poland and abroad?
Including Toastmasters community, conference speakers, session leaders, the representatives of Toastmasters and non-members, as well as the organizers themselves? Let’s see…
Those who wanted to learn from champions in public speaking had their feast on the evening of 21 February – during the Humorous Speeches contest and Table Topics contest. Best speakers, great fun and a marvelous learning and surprise effect – not to mention the inspiration for future champions!
The Humorous Speeches Contest in Polish was won by:
- Cyril Junior DIM (I)
- Jakub GODLEWSKI (II)
- Justyna WALENTA (III).
With the audience award in this category for: Jakub GODLEWSKI.
The champions who entered podium in the Table Topics contest in Polish language were:
- Justyna LITYŃSKA (I)
- Krzysztof BURSZTYNOWICZ (II)
- Piotr MAKOWSKI (III).
The audience appreciated most the Table Topics answer by Justyna LITYŃSKA.
All that cheerful and exciting competition was accompanied by an integration party in the Jack Sparrow restaurant with dozens of Toastmasters throats indulged in karaoke. Yuppy! That was only the beginning …
#2. What did the participants get out of the conference itself?
Because this scope of the event gathered not only Toastmasters from nearly all the clubs in Poland, but also non-members, the benefits can be seen two folds. Toastmasters as an organization is open for new, potential members. Therefore organizing such an event is meant as a huge bust of promotion of Toastmasters activities in the local environment. Interviewed non-members attending the conference “WidziMisie” as their benefits mentioned the willingness to broad own intellectual horizons in the area of personal development. For that reason they personally most valued the workshops about: leadership pillars (Florian BAY), feedback in relations building (Ryszard KOSOWICZ), effective meetings (Piotr RUDZKI), conflict resolution (Olga TUREK-WOŹNIAK), and conducting business abroad (Robert TARANTOWICZ).
Surprise, surprise – those are the lenses in which Toastmasters is seen by the “outside world”.
#3. And what about the perception of Toastmasters members?
It‘s proved in personal survey that wide selectivity is valued. Possibility to choose the topics and presentations that one personally fancy out of almost 30 different presentations organized in 3 simultaneous panels, two Polish-speaking and one English-speaking. What did we indulge ourselves in?
If seen in alphabetical order, the Toastmasters journey ranged from B to Z 😉
- Florian BAY – on leadership pillars;
- Łukasz CHOMICZ – on eliminating team dysfunctions;
- Michał DEC – on words as tools of power and heart as the shield;
- Zbigniew DZIDECZEK – on effective negotiations;
- Gábor Zoltán HALMAI – on personal stories building;
- Pascal HEYMANN – on body language in leadership communication;
- Eva GOELLNER – on interpersonal communication and values;
- Ryszard KOSOWICZ – on the importance of feedback;
- Krzysztof INDYCKI and Ewa WOJCIECHOWSKA – on personal branding;
- Tomasz JAMROZIAK – on new contacts building;
- Ewa MARGAŃSKA – on gratitude … without violence;
- Pedram MOGHADDAM – on communication in relationships;
- Tomasz NOWAKOWSKI – on effective work management;
- Maciej ORŁOŚ – on his quarter of a decade experience in conferencing and speaking on Polish TV;
- Adam PIOCH and Krzysztof JAKUBOWSKI – on inspirational storytelling with awe;
- Jan POLANOWSKI – on martial arts links to public speaking;
- Paulina POTOCKA – on creative stand-up and comedy;
- Klaus ROTH – on ease and difficulties of evaluation;
- Piotr RUDZKI – on effective meetings management;
- Joanna RYMKO – on voice projection in dubbing;
- Marcin SAWICKI – on successful sales management;
- Robert TARANTOWICZ – on tips for international business development;
- Olga TUREK-WOŹNIAK – on conflict resolution;
- Robert WIĘCZKOWSKI – on Toastmasters’ clubs rescuing;
- Ewa SZPAKOWICZ – on coaching in career development;
- Lena WACHOWIAK – on authentism and the anatomy of change;
- Jerzy ZIENTKOWSKI – on humor in business presentations.
If one asks a Toastmaster – why to attend the trainings, sessions and workshops during such a conference – all confirm that it allows them to improve own skills just by watching the best trainers, best speakers and best leaders in action. The “effect” conference is said to be praised for the various speakers representing different fields and their key messages delivered at one time in just one place. It generates our own creativity for ideas and inspiration for new activities. Some of the participants from Gdynia pointed at the possibility to attend unique kind of topics and workshops, like the one about non-violence wording (Ewa MARGAŃSKA). What’s more, for others this is the best occasion to find new connections and friends. To speak in person with the admired for decades TV presenters (Maciej ORŁOŚ) and conduct enriching individual conversations with valued speakers (Michał DEC). One of the participants said even: “I attend the trainings and sessions of particular people, whom I value and care about, so they could feel my support”. Indeed, the Toastmasters community is known for supporting and liking each other very much, giving opportunity to exchange ideas, humor, stories and support.
There wasn’t anybody who would deny that the integration of the Toastmasters community in Poland and internationally is the biggest value of such an event. On top of that, the integration at the afterparties, and ice-breaking during unofficial dance-floor contacts allows to fasten future relations. Priceless experience.
#4. What’s the perception of the conference speaker then?
The diversity is key also in this regard. WidziMisie Conference attracted speakers from within the Toastmasters community, but also external ones, who either used to be in Toastmasters or never experienced it yet. All of them point at the possibility to gain unique knowledge, experience and inspiration from each other. Whereas the non-TM speakers, on one side underline possibility to test – by a very demanding Toastmasters audience – their own trainings and workshops that are meant to be offered commercially (Lena WACHOWIAK), on the other – find partners for start-ups business cooperation (Robert TARANTOWICZ). One may think of such presentations as of minor impact, however to the speakers’ surprise, the experience shows a deep engagement of the conference participants to the presented issues. That approach benefits us all 😊
Toastmasters speakers may show a bit different perspective. Some of them having for years gained a lot of inspirations, now want to simply share their own unique knowledge and experience, even from such distant from TM areas as martial arts, that can be valuable for Toastmasters (Jan POLANOWSKI). What’s valuable for Toastmasters is also the possibility to train oneself in delivering workshops in accordance to various projects of Success/Leadership Excellence Series. Therefore during WidziMisie we had a change to indulge in the challenges of leadership pillars (Florian BAY), meetings effectiveness (Piotr RUDZKI), and conflict resolution (Olga TUREK-WOŹNIAK). They prove that there is a potential and need in such presentations, that explain and build expert groups. But also refer to wider issues ongoing in Toastmasters, like the Odyssey project dedicated to the District 108.
Last word on behalf of speakers is delivered by Florian BAY: “Attending Efekt Widzimisie reminded me that all over Europe Toastmasters members share the same goals and aspirations. I really enjoyed the warmth and energy of the Polish Toastmasters community. Their legendary afterparties didn’t disappoint😉. The workshops provided me with new techniques on public speaking and leadership that I will be using in my role as District 91 Director”.
#5. What about the conference organizers themselves?
What did this event mean to them? To the surprise of most attendees, this particular event was mainly organized by 3 members of Toastmasters Białystok: Marcin SAWICKI, Hubert NIEWIŃSKI and Zbigniew KORYCKI, although supported on the final straight by a dozen of local volunteers.
They proudly state that such an event required on their side exceptional creativity, unceasing initiative, smooth collaboration, huge promotion and total devotion of private time for months in a hope for a bit of gratitude on the side of satisfied participants. Each “effect” is different with the intent to show the local specificity. During the winter WidziMisie the local tastes, flavors and hospitality made the point. Indeed, promotion and spreading the information about the conference went to a variety of environments via Facebook, local television, Toastmasters mailing channels, posters, and – what enchanted some of us – via personalized club visits in most clubs in Poland by Toastmasters Białystok members few months before the event. This engagement was enormously visible by the participants not only prior to the conference, but also during the event with an exceptional care put to the details, like the toasts and cookies served during the break, tidiness kept instantly, and hospitality shown with a great heart.
However, such a huge event is a huge challenge. Challenge to coordinate the speakers, media partners, finances, localization, meals and lodging, not to mention self-preparation for stage time. Not all issues are in fact manageable by organizers, some didn’t go as foreseen, regardless how secure (insurance, medical care, physical protection) and well prepared the event can be. There is a saying that again proves true “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”. But the experience is invaluable. Let me quote one of the participants: “The organizers have done an amazing job and I thank them for that”. That was a great job.
Those who attended the WidziMisie event do appreciate not only the fantastic atmosphere of this event, worthwhile memories, exceptional experiences and knowledge, marvelous speakers, but most of all – people who made it happen. The Toastmasters effect grows in us thanks to WidziMisie conference and again proves the validity of Toastmasters values: integrity, respect, service and excellence.
We are looking forward to the next Toastmasters Effects, and awaiting Royal Toastmasters Effect in Krakow in August! WidziMisie…
HUGE THANKS to PAULINA ZAMELEK, Area A2 Director, District 108.