This is my first public expression of appreciation and gratitude to all my Toastmasters leaders, friends and colleagues in Districts 47 & 81*, who, in one way or another, directly or indirectly contributed to my truly memorable Vancouver Experience at the 2017 World Championship of Public Speaking. We did not produce the World Champion… this time. But take my word… it is very much within our reach!
However we did win the Semi-Finals. That positioned us among the top 10 Districts in Toastmasters world of 141 countries, and placed our District Representative among the 10 Finalists from a field of more than 30,000 Contestants. We have every reason to be proud of our performance… but there is room for improvement. We did not win the World Championship. We can win the World Championship. We must win the World Championship. We will win the World Championship.
Can all of us become the World Champion? If you want it that badly, you can! The great news is that you do not have to win the World Championship to be a Champion. There is only enough space for one World Champion each year, but you can be the only Champion that really matters, whenever you decide to make the sacrifice and pay the price. Toastmasters offers us a unique opportunity to hone our communication and leadership skills at a price that is ridiculously comparatively low. It is up to us to literally exploit this opportunity through the varied projects for communicating and leading that are offered. By becoming the best that you can be, you would have demonstrated to the universe, that you have met the requirements to be designated “Champion”. As I declared in my winning Semi-Final Speech – “Good, better, best! Never let it rest. Until your good gets better, and your better best!” [click link below to start. Click bottom right of video to return to this page]
Almost everyone I meet asks me about my experience on the World Stage. My consistent reply is that that stage was big… and when I say big… I mean humongous. I estimated it to be more than 60 feet long… but it seemed like 100 feet to me. Was I intimidated? Definitely not. Did I feel nervous? I feel nervous before addressing 30 people, and just as nervous before addressing 3000 people. But what Vancouver did for me was to provide an opportunity to love a lot of people all at once. Arising from that experience, I now have some very good advice and a priceless tip for how best to “work the stage” when you are presenting, regardless of the size of the stage. For this priceless tip, watch my presentation at the District 47 2017 Fall Conference – “To The World… Your Stage!” [click link below to start. Click bottom right of video to return to this page]
We all must ask ourselves the question, “How much do we wish to pay for the success we desire?” The formula is simple. The greater the success desired, the higher the price required. When the sacrifice is optional, so is the success. When one is guaranteed, so is the other.
The truth is that not all of us are naturally driven to desire to be the best that we can be, and to pay the price that will get us there. But built into the benefits that are offered through our Toastmasters’ journey ought to be the motivation to learn and to grow through preparation, presentations, performances and evaluations. I feel confident that I would be doing our brand a great service if I identified it with, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good gets better, and your better gets best.”
And how do we pay the price? First we invest time in creating and nurturing the desire to be the best that God created us to be. Next, as Toastmasters, we invest the time to attend our Club Meetings punctually and consistently. We should never leave a Club Meeting without having risen to our feet and giving a “speech”. Speeches could be Prepared; Impromptu (Table Topics); Evaluations; outlining our duties as Functionaries and presenting our reports. And if none of that is possible, rise, and through the chair, place a motion on the floor – “Be it resolved that this Club ensures that every member attending will have an opportunity to speak at each meeting.” For as I have repeatedly stated… “A Bird that does not fly, and a fish that does not swim is like a toastmaster who does not speak.” And if that fails, exercise your paid right to inter-club and speak at any Toastmasters Club that you can attend in any part of the world. I remember the laughter and subtle “opposition” I experienced when I announced the craziest proposition ever heard by any Toastmaster in Jamaica. The day I was inducted, I announced that I would earn my DTM in 1 year. And I did… with a lot of help from inter-clubbing.
We all know that we can wing it, and feel very cute about our ability to “fly” through the projects. But rest assured, when we “fly” through our projects, their intended benefits will “fly” through us… and we will not be the better for the flight. My Semi-final speech represented the greatest investment of time and energy and considered evaluations and recommendations that I ever made in any speech. And if the truth is to be told, the result did not surprise me. For the same reason, my last conversation with God before doing my 7 minute “Table Topics” speech at the World Finals was, “Lord, please, do not perform a miracle and allow me to win… I would be ashamed of myself for life because I simply have not invested in the right to win.” That said… if God spares my life and my health, you can count on me in 2018 to do the very best that I can to become the very best that I can be. And so can you.
And there is one more thing. We cannot effectively do it alone. We need each other’s helping hand. One hand can’t clap. “Han wash han mek han come clean.” I reserve comment on the danger that online Clubs could pose to the concentration of our brand, if Toastmasters replace the physical “down to earth” Club for the online version. Suffice it to say, that the value of the fellowship experienced during our scheduled and informal meetings is as valuable as the content in the manuals. And the greatest part of that fellowship is not what you receive, but what you give. For it is in giving that you exercise and develop the “muscles” that help you to grow. It is therefore no surprise that our Creator reminds us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Don’t worry, you will receive more than you give. Just do the math. When each person in a group of 10 gives 1 unit, that person “loses” 1 unit, but gains 9 – a net gain of 8. And if you are like me, I “rig” the process and ensure that I also receive what I am giving. That means I enjoy a net gain of 9.
Consciously and assiduously Follow this formula and I guarantee that more people will want to join our Clubs. All DCP goals will be achieved. Your Club will be President’s Distinguished, and so will your Area, Division and District. District 47 once repeatedly ranked in the Top 5 Toastmasters International Districts in the world. Magic didn’t take us there, and magic will not return us to that position. The faithful consistent application of the principles that you know to be valid will get us there. It is excellence in each of us that will make our Club, Area, Division and District excellent. And remember… United we S.T.A.N.D. Together we can! As we hold the hand of our fellow man.
Dr. Godfrey E. McAllister, DTM
*The first 12 years of my 15-year Toastmasters journey was spent in District 81 at the Pacesetters Toastmasters Club in Jamaica. Since migrating to the USA, I am a proud member of the Achievers Toastmasters Club in District 47 Division C.