October 24, 2012

Last Night's Toastmaster Meeting

Toastmasters International
Last night I got to be Toastmaster for Boise Club 61, a feat that isn't really special or even notable, except for the fact that last night our club was visited by Toastmaster International's President John Lau.

It isn't everyday the leader of an organization of over a quarter-million, representing about 13,000 clubs in 113 nations drops by for a visit.

Thanks to a traffic accident en-route to the meeting I was almost late.  When I got to the club I was told that Mr. Lau wanted to give a speech, but he didn't have an introduction.  "He's the Internatinal President, he doesn't need an introduction."

Now at this point it is important to note that when I first joined Boise Club 61 I was informed of the one cardinal rule: no introduction = no speech.  Generally speaking we also require manual speeches to be given, but if a member or guest is preparing for an "outside" speech that doesn't fit into a manual, we've...or in some cases I've (former VP of Education) been flexible on that rule.  If one of the purposes of Toastmasters it to help members improve their speaking skills, and someone needs help doing just that for a planned speech outside of the club, then it would just be hypocritical to deny that assistance.

Waiving the required introduction......I couldn't see any reason to break that rule.  I tried not to be a dick about it, but I did express my concerns that I didn't want to be the Toastmaster that broke that cardinal rule.  Technically I was the one running the meeting, as far as I'm concerned that would be all on me.  I suggested that if someone wants to hear Mr. Lau speak, then someone should make sure Mr. Lau has an introduction.

Now to be fair to the guy, Mr. Lau is a pretty cool guy and I don't think he even got that having an introduction was a rule.  He really wasn't part of the conversation.  After reading the introduction that Don Newton wrote for him I didn't think writing an introduction would be a problem.  The man has been a Toastmaster for 22 years.  Not that big of an accomplishment in our club, but.....and this is a huge BUT, John Lau has earned 11 Distinguished Toastmaster awards.....11!  At that point you've had to have given every single manual speech multiple times.  You've had to serve a total of 22 years as either a Club Officer or a District Officer (11 years each), mentored or sponsored 11 clubs, and ran 11 High Performance Leadership Programs.

Wow....simply wow.  Honestly, when I read that in his introduction I kind of blew off the whole "International President" title.  I find 11 DTMs to be much more impressive.

If you happen to be in Boise this Saturday, you should really stop by the Boise Hotel and Conference center and visit the District 15 Toastmasters Fall Conference.   You can meet John Lau for yourself.

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