Let’s play tic tac toe. Toastmasters tic tac toe.
This game is played twice a year by whoever is in charge of the educational sessions at the district conference.
Toastmasters International suggests that there are three topics that ought to be covered at every conference: leadership, communications and Toastmasters.
When you look at the audience who generally attends a conference – members who don’t have their first awards, people who are working toward the DTM, and longtime Toastmasters with DTM after their names, you have to wonder: How do you please them all?
It’s called Toastmaster Tic-Tac-Toe.
Create a tic-tac-to board – two lines across, two lines up and down. This is now the schematic that the conference education chair has to fill. A speaker to talk to new members about… leadership. Another speaker to address DTMs about communications.
There’s a great reluctance to step up. I suspect that most of the time, people are thinking big picture rather than directed audience. Who could possibly educate all these people at all these levels?
Honestly? No one. The skills of the audience are too diverse, the experience and needs of the attendees require too much range to be effective.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve attended sessions that at the end of the session, I wanted my life back. I still don’t know what that man’s point was, but I walked out at the end feeling angry.
We don’t want angry Toastmasters. They may become evil villains who want to take over the world and Toastmasters gives them the skills to do so. Therefore, to protect our society as we know it, you should consider being an education session speaker.
1. The conference needs a variety of speakers on a variety of topics.
The wide range of attendees creates the sweet spot for you. Whatever you want to present. there will be an audience. If you want to talk about eye contact as a method of controlling your minions, you will probably find a few bodies to fill the seats. Granted, those may be your minions who attend…
Take advantage of the variety in a positive way. A great presentation on any topic will attract more experienced Toastmasters who can help you with comments and suggestions. Working with the Education Chair, you can find a topic that needs to be covered in creative and positive way.
2. You will change your life.
It’s true – if you want to learn something, teach it to someone else. Want to improve your time-management skills? Reading a book – useful. Having accountability to a group of listeners who will judge the value of your words based on your actions? Priceless.
I once gave a speech on hyper-miling – the technique of driving to reduce your gas consumption. I didn’t realize that people who were listening to that speech actually expected me to drive that way! Yep, I changed how I drove. Most of the time.
By teaching something to other Toastmasters, you will master that topic yourself.
3. It’s a big challenge.
To the new Toastmaster, a five to seven minute speech is an eternity. To a Toastmaster with a message and 45 minutes, including time for Q&A, it’s barely getting started.
A Frontier Airlines pilot had to divert from Denver to Cheyenne because of the weather. He called a local pizza place and ordered pizzas for all the passengers while they waited for the weather to clear. But the pizza place he called was ready to close… until they got that order. In 30 minutes, they did as much business filling that order as they normally did in twice the time. The pizza shop manager said that the staff liked the challenge.
A big challenge requires us to think bigger than usual. Like the High Performance Leadership project, the opportunity to speak in a setting like a conference education session is stretching… but it allows us to see what we can do when the constraints of five to seven minutes are gone.
4. You don’t have to do it alone.
Want to do a presentation on mentorship? Sure you do! We need presentations on mentoring. How do you do it? You have a mentor and protégé speak together. A partner can bring new perspective, another voice, and break from the stress of doing it by yourself.
Another method is a panel discussion. Get a few others who are experienced in your topic (planning your DTM journey, or Youth Leadership Programs) and sit down with an audience. A good moderator is necessary but will be able to move the session along when the stories start to dry up.
Conference education sessions are a place to be creative – don’t limit yourself to thinking you have to fill the entire time by yourself.
5. You have a bigger speech coming up in your DTM track.
The Advanced Communicator Gold Award has two extra requirements beyond completing the Advanced Manuals: mentoring a new member and presenting a workshop. Plenty of people are already looking ahead toward that July 2017 deadline for the DTM award and considering their options. Toastmasters provides a variety of programs to choose from – Success/Leadership and Success/Communications are both series of workshops that are mostly two hour presentations. The Youth Leadership Program is eight weeks long. The educational speech you give at the conference is the step from a five to seven minute speech and another step to the two hour workshop.
6. You’re ambitious.
Presenting at the district conference gives you a lot of publicity. You may not be well known outside your division. You may not even be known outside your club. This speech opportunity puts you on the Toastmasters radar. Looking to move up in the district hierarchy? A good education session will put your name in front of a hundred or more fellow Toastmasters. Thinking long term in your Toastmaster career strategy – smart.
7. You can give back.
You know where you started. If you’re like me, you vividly remember your first speech and everything that went wrong. It’s time for you to give back to Toastmasters. Can’t think of a topic? What did Toastmasters teach you? Teach it back!
Your District 10 Fall District Conference is in the planning stages now. This year’s education chair is Larry Sczcepanski and you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell him what you can teach at this year’s conference. [contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]by