What we learned from Toastmasters International Executive Committee in Prague?

What we learned from Toastmasters International Executive Committee in Prague?

For the first time in the history of our organization, the Toastmasters International Executive Committee held a meeting outside of North America. In November 2018, the members of the Executive Committee met in Prague, the beautiful capital of the Czech Republic.

District 108 leaders, together with members from all over Europe, came to Prague for a day of educational sessions organized by the ExComm members on November 10th. We had an opportunity to attend workshops of the Chief Executive Officer Daniel Rex, Immediate Past International President Balraj Arunasalam, International President Lark Doley, International President-Elect Deepak Menon, First Vice President Richard Peck and Second Vice-President Margaret Page.

The room of about 120 people in the Raddisson hotel in Prague was full of Toastmasters members from Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, Russia, Italy, England, China and many other countries. Some of them have just joined Toastmasters 1 month ago, some have served the organization for almost 30 years. It was amazing to witness such a diversity of the Toastmasters International organization.

After the weekend in Prague, full of inspiration and networking, we were empowered and motivated to continue our Toastmasters leadership journey. Here are our main takeaways from this event:

  1. Daniel Rex in his inspiring educational session “Why we do what we do” reminded us about the power of Toastmasters International values – Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence. By being the member of Toastmasters we are changing ourselves, others, organisations and the whole world.

 

  1. Balraj Arunasalam asked us “Is your club a learning laboratory?” He stated that the standard 3-3-3 scheme (3 speeches, 3 evaluations, 3 table topics) is not a good solution. The key to club excellence is deep understanding of our club mission:
  • “We provide a supportive and positive learning experience”  We need to have right numbers in the club, at least 30 members in the roster to ensure high energy at the meetings. We need to ensure the good quality of evaluations in our club.
  • in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills” – Members need to feel empowered enough to keep coming back.
  • resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth”. – It is not about our position – it is about people, their development and their personal growth.

To have an excellent club – find out the needs of your members, then – model all your meetings, planning what is the extra you will provide at each meeting to give members additional value.

  1. Margaret Page in her session “Members Acheivement” asked us about our Why. What is your personal goal in Toastmasters? What do you want to achieve by the end of this year? We have shared our goals with our accountability partners during the session and will monitor each other’s’ progress.

We were empowered to use the “Start with Why” method during Club Officers Trainings or asking members to step in to the district leadership role. When we want to motivate new leaders – talk about their benefits, how they will benefit from their leadership role.

Most importantly – do not just ask someone to fill the role. First – ask “What is your goal in Toastmasters?”, then connect the benefits from the role with their needs. Questions are the answer!

  1. Deepak Menon shared the secret to “How to spread awareness about Toastmasters”. We found out how Toastmasters in India grew from only a few clubs to hundreds of clubs in a very short time. The key is spreading awareness.

Contacts with media are essential. Newspapers are struggling to get interesting articles and we have many opportunities to offer content for them. We can organize a special event – conference or speech contest, we should make it sound interesting and appealing and invite media to come.

Deepak motivated us: “Spread the awareness about Toastmasters through every way possible! Be creative!”

  1. Lark Doley covered all levels of leadership in Toastmasters International and te transferable skills each of the roles might bring. Starting from serving on different leadership positions in your club, you can continue as an Area Director, after that Division Director, member of the District Leadership team. After that there are possibilities of becoming a Region Advisor, an International Director and International President. In each of the roles we are learning new competencies, transferable skills which can be applied in the business world.
  2. Richard Peck in his session “Becoming a leader” stated that there are three main elements of how leaders are made – education, practice and journey. He brought up important characteristics of leadership.
  • Never be afraid to ask for help. Build your team and trust them. People do not always agree with you but you can’t be in the front all the time
  • Empower individuals. Let them make decisions on their own and implement them
  • Delegate tasks
  • Show appreciation
  • Ask for feedback.

The day ended with the “Leadership Journey” Panel with the members of ExComm, conducted by CEO Daniel Rex, where we had an opportunity to ask about their Why, about making tough decisions and about ups and downs of their leadership journey.

We are extremely grateful to Toastmasters International for such a great experience for Toastmasters in Europe. Special thanks go to Region 10 Advisor Elizabeth Nostedt and District 110 Program Quality Director Lukas Liebich for making this happen!

It was amazing to see the leaders of our organization in action – sharing their experiences, inspiring, motivating. We are hoping to see Executive Committee meetings in Europe more often in the future. Maybe in District 108? Who knows 🙂

Elena Pawęta

D108 Club Growth Director

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