Experiences with speech ideas: The Importance of Education in your Toastmasters club

‘Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch a little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract, and they’re very beautiful’

-David Lynch, film director.

Profound words indeed from the master of the surreal! Lynch also says that his initial ideas are largely spontaneous. I completely identify with this, as most ideas I generate for speeches are spontaneous. Spontaneous in the sense that leaving the office one day I got into my ‘bachelor van’ (as christened by Srini but little does he know 😉 turned the key, and……. Voila! There was the idea for an educational speech about generating ideas.

How does one get into moments of such spontaneity? The honest answer is I don’t know, but this blog series will attempt to decipher the creative process as I see it.


The Importance of Education in your Toastmasters club

Toastmasters International has a suite of presentations that take shape as the Better Speaker and Successful Club Series. Typically given by more experienced members, the presentations aim to help us: 1) improve as speakers; 2) maximise the benefits of membership through education, and 3) to pave the way for future leadership within the club and beyond (i.e. Area, Division etc.).

A fantastic element of Toastmasters is that it operates on the basis of ‘learning by doing’. In my opinion this can also be a shortcoming. Let me explain…..

During the ‘third half’ over coffee at a TM meeting in Dundee before Christmas, it was rightly pointed out that there’s a difference between knowing and understanding how to do something. In my experiences, ‘sticking to what you know’ can be a bad thing; I prefer to regard that as a ‘façade of belligerence’ in certain contexts, particularly with people who are entrenched in their ways (think of the worst bosses you ever had!).

I always feel that it’s important to ‘keep the head out of the sand’ as it were, and take a few steps back. Once that capacity of awareness has been reached, it’s then important to take a look around and define the missing elements from what it is we already know, and go on to incorporate these missing elements to help increase our understanding. Ultimately this is how we improve and get ahead, which in turn maximises our development as members as Toastmasters or whatever walk of life our paths are taking us.

As a well-travelled Toastie across different clubs in Scotland, one of the major things I realised that our club was lacking regular education sessions. Thankfully, a similar sentiment was echoed throughout our committee, and we decided to do something about it. The result is now one education session per month for the remaining six months of our clubs Toastmasters year. My presentation was the first one given in January; incidentally I had given it in two clubs prior to this in Dunfermline and Inverness. Somewhere between 50-60 people have seen this presentation. It seemed to have been well received for the majority. I must then have some idea of what I’m talking about!!

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