A Guide to the Socially Responsible Toastmaster

In my previous articles, I've encouraged you to try new things: enter contests, give a different type of speech, run for club offices, be innovative, and have fun. These are the things that will enhance your Toastmaster life. Among those of you who follow my advice, whether you've been a member for 20 years or for two weeks, are future winners of club speech contests. Some of you will also win at the Area and Division levels. Some of you will represent our District at Regionals, and it's conceivable that at least one of you will someday be the World Champion of Public Speaking. Likewise, some of you are future club presidents. Some of your will also become Area and Division Governors, and some of you are future District Governors or beyond. (You may not believe that for a moment; when I first joined Toastmasters, I decided to be a secretary but never anything more, certainly not a club president . . . plans are made to be modified.) What I want to write today, though, is that none of that is enough!

Never forget that Toastmasters is a laboratory, and there's a whole world outside of the classroom (a world begging for help). Recently, we watched a viscious Democratic primary in Texas. Our colleges and high schools have race relation problems, and people can't even talk about it without offending someone else. People at work admit that they don't know how to be creative. My church tries to use parliamentary procedure to run its congregational meetings, even though the presidents don't know how it works. I talk with advocates of various issues, and even if their point-of-view merits support, they present such faulty logic and shoddy arguments that I would be embarrassed to support the same sides that they do. Nearly everywhere I look, I see leaders with no vision. I also see parents that don't know how to talk and listen to their children, if they had that time to give in the first place.

Each of you, however, has plugged into the power of Toastmasters. This source makes you a better speaker, a better leader, a better listener, and a better thinker. Through Toastmasters, you gain the ability to be effective; don't hold it in! Look beyond the self-satisfaction or fun that you can get from this organization, beyond the growth that you can lead your club to attain, and even beyond making District 56 number one. Yes, we gain so much from Toastmasters, and we can pass it on and help other members learn too, but what good is all of this learning without a practical application? Take the lessons you learn, the confidence you achieve, and the skills that you develop and polish, and apply them where it counts: your work, your communities, and your families. That's my intent, my way to improve the world; join me.

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