Speakers Bureau: Speak and Make a Difference

By Praveena Raman,
Co-Chair D57 Speakers Bureau.
City Speech TM. SAA; VPP

 In March 1959 Toastmasters International sent a letter to all the Presidents of Toastmaster clubs in the United States proposing that a Speakers Bureau at each club be established.  This was the result of a collaboration between Toastmasters and the American Cancer Society and Boy Scouts of America, the first public service program on a national scale for Toastmasters International. The letter included guidelines such as “members having to finish a specified portion of their Basic Training” before they could be selected for speaking outside their clubs. Maurice Forley, then Executive Director of Toastmasters International, said “This is an opportunity for individual Toastmasters to increase their public speaking experience by voluntarily selecting an outside activity…”.  He also clarified that “members speaking before outside groups are expressing their own views and not those of Toastmasters International.” (The Toastmaster. April 1959;v25(4):3).  Thus the foundation was laid for a Toastmasters International Speakers Bureau program. 

 Over the last 60 years the program has grown with Speakers Bureaus being set up at Districts, Divisions, Areas and Clubs.  There is even a Speakers Bureau specialty club.  Last July, District 57, our district, decided to move forward with setting up a Speakers Bureau and appointed Gary McKinsey as the Chair. In the July 25 edition of this newsletter, Gary wrote an article about D57 Speakers Bureau extending an invitation for interested members to join him in building this program. 

 Setting up a committee and building a program takes time especially one like the Speakers Bureau which has many interdependencies and resource and time constraints.  In November 2020, I joined Gary as the Co-Chair and by January 2021 the D57 Speakers Bureau Founding Committee was formed and the work began in earnest.  It was at this same time that the contest season had started and there was a clamor for test speakers.  While the Founding Committee was busy working on setting up the infrastructure, Gary and I set up a proof-of-concept D57 Speakers Bureau specifically to help in providing test speakers where needed for the 2021 contest season.  This proof-of-concept program was managed by Kavita Maheswari and has been beneficial in providing valuable lessons learned that can be applied to the actual program.

 D57 Speakers Bureau milestone.

Last month a major milestone was achieved with the submission of a mockup of the Speakers Bureau webpage to Ed Cullen, D57 Public Relations Manager.  The webpage will have the description of the Speakers Bureau program, membership criteria, the application form and some frequently asked questions (FAQs). Once the webpage is set up, D57 Toastmasters will be able to apply to be considered for membership in the Speakers Bureau. A huge thank you and recognition to Joann Bradley, Kavita Maheswari, Abhishek Chaturvedi and Gary McKinsey for all their hard work in reaching this milestone.

 Why Speakers Bureau? 

In our journey through the Toastmasters program we concentrate on honing our speaking and presentation skills.  To achieve our best potential we also need to practice these techniques a lot and with a variety of audiences. “Stage Time, Stage Time, Stage Time” is the popular mantra of Public Speaker Darren LaCroix.  LaCroix who is taking the stage at the upcoming D57 conference on May 1, also mentions that just having Stage Time and becoming a great presenter is not enough.  We need to go beyond that.  We should strive to become accomplished powerful speakers and practice to speak in such a way that we are heard. (LaCroix. Toastmaster. January 2017:p21)

 D57 Speakers Bureau can help members get increased Stage Time and become accomplished speakers by identifying opportunities within Toastmasters and with outside community organizations. 

 If you would like to experience this opportunity and make a difference then please consider applying to D57 Speakers Bureau. You can get started for the application process by preparing your Speaker One sheet and a video showing your ability to connect and engage your audience.  

 In the words of authors Neile and Sterman “participating in a speakers bureau can be highly rewarding. It’s a great way to keep your skills current, expand your opportunities for presenting, and do a little personal and professional networking for good measure—all while giving back to your community.”  (Neile and Sterman.  Toastmaster. November 2020:p18)

 “D57 Speakers Bureau members have a diverse personal and professional background, who are part of a roster of quality speakers that are current members in good standing of District 57 Toastmasters clubs.” To find out more about D57 Speakers Bureau, go to their website HERE