Every 6 months Area Directors organise trainings to expand and polish the skills of club officers in their area. It is not an easy task. With up to 6 clubs in one area this could mean training even over 40 people. Those trainings usually take place during weekends. Is it possible to motivate so many people to spend their free time on a few hours of workshops, with no payment? It is! Konrad Łebkowski, Area D1 Director, trained all officers in his area! Listen to his story!
Q1: Let’s start with basics – tell us briefly about yourself 🙂
I have been within Toastmasters International for four years as a member of Toastmasters Częstochowa club. My first role in my leadership Toastmasters career was the club Secretary. Finally I took the Club President position. Together with my club officers we achieved the President Distinguished Club Award. During that time I have learnt how to lead a team, serve and motivate team members so that they could grow faster and achieve their personal goals. I also have learned to actively listen to club members’ needs and perfected my time management skills. Currently I am Area D1 Director (Silesia region) where I am supporting clubs in achieving excellence. Meanwhile I am a mentor to Toastmasters Kielce and Silesia Speech Master club members.
Being Vice President of Education I implemented Easy Speak platform in our club. This really increased my performance as VPE and took the quality of club meetings to the higher level. However I noticed that many club members had problems with using it efficiently. So I made a decision to conduct „Ninja Easy Speak” training within educational Monday’s organised by Division D. In the last Club Officers Training session I also trained Division A club officers on how Easy Speak platform could help them.
Professionally I am a software developer. This year in my city I have started organising cycling trips. There are many magnificent views near Częstochowa (especially in Jura Krakowsko – Częstochowska) which you can see by bike. We are having a good time all together, visiting beautiful places and integrating with each other. I am proud that I can show others the places which they did not realise that they even exist although they are very close to their living place.
Q2: How many clubs are there in your Area? Can you tell us a bit about them?
In my Area there are four clubs. Three of them are Polish and one is conducting its meeting in English. They are really advanced clubs.
Silesia Toastmasters is one of the oldest clubs in Poland, which has many talented speakers and leaders. Ilona Piwowarczyk performed in the Championships of Humorous Speeches 2017 in German language on the District level. The current Club President Piotr Ziemski is a past Area Director. They are originators of “Integracja u źródeł”(eng. Meet-up at the Source) event, which is a great occasion to share speaker and leadership knowledge and integrate all club members not only in my Area but also in the south of Poland.
Silesia Speech Masters is the only English-speaking club in the Area. They are known from activity outside Toastmasters. For example they helped with the Silesian Science Festival in 2017 as well as the Non-Government Organisations Festival in 2019. Last year they improved a lot their club meetings quality and introduced a new role – Pronunciation Evaluator to relieve Grammarian and practice proper accent.
Toastmasters Częstochowa – my home club, which is known for advanced speakers and leaders. Can you imagine that in this club there are three members having DTM awards? It is also the home club of a past Area and Division Director – Olga Turek Wozniak and very advanced speaker Justyna Walenta who scored 3rd place in the Polish Championships of Humorous Speeches 2020.
Toastmasters IG Wodzisław – club which also has many advanced leaders. Recently Roksandra Kłobuch scored 3rd place in Polish Evaluation Championships 2020. Past Club President Jadwiga Brzezinka was part of a Division conference team and Aneta Buczak currently takes care of PR in my Area.
Currently Jadwiga Brzezinka from Toastmasters IG Wodzisław and Magdalena Sitek the Past Club President of Silesia Speech Masters set up an initiative for Gliwice. They are working really hard to open a Toastmasters club in this city.
Q3: Now for your great success! Congratulations! How did you feel when you succeeded in training all officers in your area?
Thank you very much! First of all I was really surprised when I heard that I have achieved 100% Club Officers Trained Award. I did not realise that my Area was the only one in District 108 where all Club Officers have been trained.
I am very proud of all Club Officers in my Area. They are really conscious of the importance of positions they occupy and know that Club Officers Training helps them to become better leaders and achieve their personal goals. In the end, well-trained officers let clubs grow. I would like to thank all Club Officers in my Area for support and cooperation. You are great!
Q4: How did you prepare for that goal?
I started preparation for that goal very early. Even before I officially took the Area Director position. In June I hosted Club Officers Training for my Area which finally (because it was organised online) turned into training for all Club Officers in our District. Almost 80 Club Officers attended! There were Club Officers from such cities like: Gdańsk, Olsztyn and Wrocław. Once again it confirmed that not leaving things for the last minute leads to success.
After that training I had 23/27 officers trained in my Area. Only four left. I kept in touch with them all the time, explained the importance of such training and encouraged them to attend COTs for other Areas. They had many chances to attend as my COT was only the first in the summer session.
Q5: What was the greatest challenge?
First of all I had to look around for really good trainers who could attract people to attend that training. In my Area I have very advanced leaders who are willing to share their knowledge like: Magdalena Sitek from Silesia Speech Masters, Aneta Buczak from Toastmasters IG Wodzisław, Olga Turek – Woźniak and Piotr Woźniak from Toastmasters Częstochowa. But I also supported myself with very good leaders from Division D like Past Area Directors: Łukasz Chomicz, Aleksandra Kopańska, Agnieszka Chodorek and current D2 Area Director Łukasz Korduła.
The second big challenge was the technical part of that event. I know Zoom platform very well but it still keeps some secrets to me. In June managing breakout rooms was completely new for me. During COT I planned to have two 50-minutes sessions with three trainings at the same time. Technology often fails. I wanted to be perfectly prepared to avoid any unexpected situations, which could lower the trainings quality. To achieve that I set up a test environment in my flat. I gathered three laptops and together with my smartphone I could simulate four Zoom users. Then I could train breakout room functionality.
Q6: Did you have any help?
Of course! Teamwork is one of the important things which you can learn in Toastmasters. Such success would not be possible without any help. Ryszard Kosowicz Past Area D1 Director gave me very important tips about organising such events and finding good trainers which could bring a good value to my Area. Aneta Buczak who is currently PR Assistant Area Director did a great job and promoted it in social media.
Q7: What are your next plans?
A lot of is going on. 8th of October all clubs in my Area and Toastmasters Na Szczycie club joins all the forcers together! We are making online demo meeting, by which we want to bring new members to all clubs in the Area and also for new forming club in Gliwice. It is called “Survival mówcy – jak nie roztrzaskać się na scenie” (eng. Speaker’s Survival – How not to shatter on the stage). Roksandra Kłobuch from Toastmaster IG Wodzisław is the chair of this event. My PR Assistant Aneta Buczak took a big effort to organise a PR campaign in order to attract as many new members as we can.
The 17th of October we have Area speech contest hosted by Silesia Toastmasters. And of course I have planned club visits. I want to see personally all the Club Officers.