Toastmasters for a Lifetime: Workshop Notes

“We’re making history today,” Toastmasters International President Lark Doley opened the Workshop Saturday in Prague’s Radisson Blu Alcron hotel. She referred to the fact never before has the International Executive Committee met outside North America.

What followed was a day packed with insights, thought-provoking questions and enriching conversations. Each of the six executive committee members delivered a workshop and the day closed with a panel discussion.

If you’re curious about what they talked about: You’ve come to the right place. Here I’m sharing my personal notes, as well as comments by a few big fish in the European Toastmasters pond.


Daniel Rex: Why we do what we do

In one sentence: “We change ourselves, we change people around us, we change organizations and maybe – we change the world.”

Surprised me: Daniel visited a company in Middle East, where one of the executives said: “If you want a promotion, you’d better be a club officer.” In MSD (where we have a corporate club), Toastmasters are highly valued – but it seems we still have a way to go.

Food for thought: “Is achieving Distinguished status the most important thing? No, it’s not. The personal transformations that happen within the clubs are the most important things. Take Stephan from Prague. People are telling him that since he joined Toastmasters, he is a nicer person to talk to! But – that is kind of hard to measure.”

Made me think of: What do I need to do to incorporate active participation in Toastmasters in the annual review process in MSD?


Balraj Arunasalam: Is Your Club a Learning Laboratory

In one sentence: “People will stay in your club for one reason: Personal growth.”

Surprised me: Deepak Menon organized a 8-hour World Champion Workshop.

Food for thought:

We all want the next world champion to come from our club. So what have you done to facilitate that?

  • Give them the vision to be the world champion.
  • Provide competitive edge to your club.
  • Make the whole club compete in the international speech contest.

If you have more than advanced speakers, why don’t you facilitate a debate for them to provide them with a new challenge? If there is someone who talks too much and too fast – why don’t you offer a workshop on listening or proper articulation?

Made me think of: Time to organize some practice sessions in Prague and encourage them in other European cities (while you’re reading this – how about you organize one)?

IMG-1499 (2)

Margaret Page: Member Achievement

In one sentence: “Don’t stop at what had happened, look how you have grown.”

Surprised me: There is a #mywhy social media campaign. Even you can record and share a video! More info here (link).

Food for thought: “How can your club support you in achieving your goals? Have you shared your goals with your club?” (of course I haven’t, have you?)

Made me think of:

  1. I must find an easy way how to create videos and
  2. I have to find a way how to share my goals with my club – and make other members share their goals too.


Deepak Menon: Shh, it’s a secret!

In one sentence: The #1 rule of Toastmasters is: Talk about Toastmasters! (credit to Dan Huma)

Surprised me: In Deepak’s beginnings, New Delhi Toastmasters had 10 members, so they created an event targeting an audience of 100.

Food for tought:

  • “We knew which of our members worked in what corporations and we knew what clubs to reach out to.”
  • Social Media Trick: Publish a post and ask all members to share it.

Made me think of: Find a way to Czech (and other European) media.


Lark Doley: District Leadership

In one sentence: (In Toastmasters) I learn something new every day.

Surprised me: Not something that Lark sad, but something I had not done – I have not written down the skills I learned in Toastmasters since this blog post from November 2014.

Food for thought: “What is your next step in Leadership?” – a question we can keep asking.

Made me think of: Listing skills I learned in Toastmasters in the past 4 years.

Lark with Deniz

Photo: Deniz Senelt Kalelioglu

Richard Peck: Becoming a leader

In one sentence: “Your Team needs to feel free to make decisions.”

What surprised me: Richard’s 2nd hobby is drag racing. It looks something like this: Top 10 Drag Races of All Time

Food for thought: How does drag racing relate to Toastmasters? When Richard is strapped to a seat in a car, he needs to trust the people on his team that they will take care of what needs to be taken care of. The same in Toastmasters. Because strapped in a car, there is a lot Richard can’t do. The same in Toastmasters (and wherever else you are working with a team). Ask yourself: Do you trust everyone on your team?

Made me think of: What do I need to do to be trusted in a way Richard trusts his team?


Nuggets of Wisdom (Leadership Panel)

Question: Did you ever quit or were you ever close to quitting?

Answer: “Quit when the time is right. Enter when the time is wrong, because then you have a lot to offer.” (Balraj)

To a question about time management: “It is about finding the key dominoes that make everything tip over.” (Margaret)

On Feedback:

“Giving feedback on speeches is easier than giving feedback on leadership.” (Balraj)
“Still you need to ask for it.” (Lark)
“Evaluation without empathy is cruelty.” (Deepak)

Importance of showing the way:

When offering a challenge, show also the path to success. “What if you, before announcing the contests, tell the club that you are going to organize a speech contest workshop to help them prepare?” (Daniel)

Their why
“If the whole world would believe in service leadership, what a world would that be?” (Lark)
“I had no fear of speaking. I just had no skill.” (Daniel)
“My father was an immigrant. For him, speaking was key.” (Margaret)

Impressions from the attendees

Elizabeth Nostedt, Reginal Advisor for Region 10 (Europe)

What an experience to have the top 6 Executives of Toastmasters with us in Prague – in Person!

If I can only pick one “best” from a whole day of learning, it was “Have you told the members of your club your “Why””? Why did you join Toastmasters? Why do you stay? Tell them also about the competencies that you have gained and could then apply to all areas of your life. There are so many competencies that we can learn. Remind others about this – especially people who might want to run for a club or District office in the coming term.

46014162_592098074580702_5343971779117318144_n (1)

Photo: Deniz Senelt Kalelioglu

Bea Bincze, District Director for District 110 (Wild East of Europe)

Participating in the workshop took me down on a memory lane.

When I attended my first Toastmasters International Convention, I realized how much wisdom and humility we can learn from our leaders.

Welcoming the Executive Committee in our district is like a dream come true.

I did not only learnt a lot from our leaders and my fellow Toastmasters, I have also rediscovered my why.

When I joined I wanted to be a better speaker. Then I started to serve as a leader to help others experience the same growth.

Then Daniel Rex, our CEO told his why:

Thousands of people looked into my eyes and said that Toastmasters changed their lives.
As Toastmasters, we experience this every time when we speak, take roles and lead teams, growing and helping others grow.


Photo: Tomas Kala

Piotr Chimko, District Director for District 108 (Poland & Baltics)

So many ideas rang out during the meeting with Toastmasters Executive Committee, that I find impossible to select one key takeaway from it.

Overall, from Prague I am bringing energy, inspiration and tons of notes plus one very special item: The Book of Ideas. In my teenager years, we used to have books of memories. The concept was simple: you handed a little book with one page reserved for one of your friends, classmates or family members and they were free to share whatever they liked.

During the workshops, I handed this little notebook you see on the picture to all International Officers, the International Director, Regional Advisor and several fellow District Trio members. They all filled their pages with personally addressed inspirations. I am carrying The Book of Ideas with me as a unique proof that there are people who care, who I can always trust and turn to. I find nothing more valuable than that.

Book of Ideas

Photo: Piotr Chimko

Daniel Kovari, Club Growth Director for District 110 (Wild East of Europe)

Every leader has to understand the importance of constant feedback. With every feedback received and implemented into your leadership style you are getting better and better.

Right after the workshops I took and action and asked for feedback from my Division Director Team to seize the moment and become a better leader every day.


Photo: Daniel Kovari

Deniz Senelt Kalelioglu, Toastmasters International Presidential Citation Recipient

As the leaders of Toastmasters in Europe, we witnessed a memorable gathering in Prag, the Executive Committee met out of North America, the first time in history. Diverse executive team carried leadership workshops that inspired us and my #1 takeaway from this event is that Toastmasters reaching new levels in global leadership and European members take their place in this new era, which brings each and every one of us more responsibility for being active in creating the future of Toastmasters in our areas and the entire world. I got the message, I’m in, join me and let’s move forward together.


Photo: Deniz Senelt Kalelioglu

Calin Gilea, Team Leader for District 110 Translations Team

Participating to such an event, where the TMI Executive Committee met for the first time outside North America, was a blessing. Also meeting and knowing the people who are leading the organization at its highest level. Two takeaways come to my mind: the club is a laboratory and when Dr. Smedley mentioned that a club should have at least 20 members, he refered to 20 people present at each meeting, not on the roster.

20181110_141639 (1)

Photo: Calin Gilea

Michala Beerova, District 110 Division C Director (Czech Republic)

My takeaway is hard to find… from “share your why in 1 minute” (#MyWhy), to “evaluation without empathy is cruelty” or “the journey with 100 miles begin with 1 step”! My key takeaway is to remember the feelings I experienced when Richard Peck talked about his passion for leadership, Lark Doley’s vulnerability or Margaret Page’s wonderful vocal variety with melodious voice.


Oliver Huffman, member of VSE Prague Toastmasters

My #1 takeaway: Modesty is paramount. One can’t become great without the help of others and their empathetic feedback, because feedback without empathy is just cruelty.

Note: The event has also been covered by Elena Pawęta from District 108 in this LinkedIn post.

2 thoughts on “Toastmasters for a Lifetime: Workshop Notes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s