By Alexey Morov,
VPE, Danville Toastmaster
I was greatly honored by an offer to be one of the TLI trainers and share my experience with the other VPEs. On the other hand, what new information could I present to my peers, many of whom already attended multiple training sessions?
So I decided to focus on my own feelings as a Toastmaster, what brought me to the organization and was keeping me going. I honestly said that I felt frustrated by the amount of effort clubs spent on recruiting new members instead of retaining existing TMs, creating great experience for them, and fulfilling the Toastmasters promise: help them grow as leaders and public speakers. I suggested my fellow VPEs, in addition to bringing more new members to the club, to try and build a small core of strong speakers capable of making great speeches and great evaluations, and serve as role models for the other club members. I reminded them that in the modern times Toastmasters face strong competition from other public speaking resources available and have to keep proving their worth to people with unlimited access to YouTube videos.
I could tell that my passionate speech polarized the audience. Some of the VPEs were smiling and nodding in approval and agreement, while the others fell silent and even turned off their cameras, clearly refusing to communicate. I don’t blame them – they have great clubs, their meetings are exciting, they are successful toastmasters with all possible accolades. Perhaps, they don’t need my training after all.
I wanted to speak to those who are not satisfied, who feel that Toastmasters could do more and be more. And I am glad that I could see the positive feedback from at least half of the participants. I hope that my message will ignite and encourage these clubs and we will see more great speakers and witness stronger overall progress across the District.