Fall 2019 Toastmasters Leadership Institute

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend my first TLI — Toastmasters Leadership Institute — a three-hour workshop to orient chapter officers within their specific roles. The facilities at MD Anderson were spacious and comfortable, and I was grateful for the coffee and assortment of breakfast options that were provided by TLI. District 56 Director Kathy Kest provided a superb example of acknowledgement versus recognition during her opening statement, wherein she recognized two gentlemen who had gone above and beyond to help resolve an unanticipated issue with parking.

The TLI leadership team ran individual breakout sessions for each role, exemplifying servant leadership by generously sharing their expertise. They each helped attendees understand how we can help our chapters grow by fulfilling our individual officer roles. As the VP of Public Relations for Spirited Speech Masters, I attended the VPPR session lead by Rhonda Reeves, Director of Division M and the VPPR for Exxon-Mobile’s Innovators chapter. She presented a clever acronym she uses to represent the aims of a VPPR:

  • Promote
  • Raise Awareness
  • Attract Members
  • Increase Membership
  • Sustain the Brand
  • Engage the Community

The room of VPPRs was then divided into groups of four, and each group was charged with determining the How, When, Who, and What of our assigned aim. This style of self-generated content and learning was extremely effective, not only because it helped us to think through what we already knew (or could figure out together) but because we were getting to know one another better. I know I made a couple of connections I hope to have the opportunity to develop further.

Overall, I felt like I learned a lot, both about my role as VPPR and about Toastmasters in general (as a new-ish member, I was particularly grateful for the temporary embargo on Toastmasters acronyms). I would recommend TLI to any new officer, and hope to have the opportunity to attend the TLI in the Spring with even more of my fellow Spirited Speech Masters!

Area Q54 Council meeting, immediately following Saturday’s TLI
L to R: Sally Boyd, Joann Hester, Patricia Koch, and Diane Nino

Looking back at District Conference

For a myriad of reasons, many members of Toastmasters have yet to attend a District Conference, an annual event wherein members are encouraged to celebrate achievements, network with one another, and learn strategies for chapter development. The annual conference for District 56 was held last weekend, and three of our long-time members — Dawn, Joann, and Sally — all chose to attend, each for varying amounts of time. I asked them to share about their experiences to give the rest of us an idea of what to expect when we become First Timers ourselves.

Left to Right: Sally, Dawn, and Joann pose beside a sign for this year’s #MyWhy campaign.
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