Insights on the journey . . . .
One day, I watched bemusedly as my 5-year-old grandson, Maxim, saved the world from an imaginary villain. He was busy rescuing humanity when I asked him, “Maxim, do you want to be a hero when you grow up
“No, Grandma,” he said. There was a pause. (Five-year-olds have such a wonderful sense of timing.) “I want to be a SUPERHERO.”
You can learn a lot from the children in your life. At that moment, Maxim revealed something important to me: Our culture has shifted. Today, it’s not enough to be a hero. Superhero is our new standard.
In public speaking or business presentations, passive is passé — but it can be tough to break out of a creative rut and find just the right phrase or hook to keep your audience engaged. Fresh ideas can be a challenge!
That’s why I’m always looking for new resources that will help get the creative juices flowing. Recently, these eight websites have been my go-to sites for extra inspiration and fun.
One Look: This is a one-stop shop for just about any word you can think of. Type in “bluebird,” for example, and you’ll get a list of definitions from 29 sources, plus a list of what the word means in various industries, professions, and casual situations (tech, medicine — even slang). You’ll also get synonyms, rhyming words, usage examples, and more.
Patricia Fripp, past president of the National Speakers Association — and a person who knows about clear communication — has a rule. If you attend one of her training sessions and use the words “thing” or “stuff,” you must put $1 into a charity pot.
Why? Because Fripp believes that unspecific language can ruin your message. She’s right. But I’d take it a step further: Unspecific language can leave you — and your team — in the land of undone.
Toastmasters are word aficionados, so you would think that specificity and carefully chosen language would come naturally to us! But it takes awareness and practice to break the generalization habit.
Here is a failsafe way to incorporate specificity into your everyday life and leapfrog common obstacles. Let’s start with a couple of common club scenarios.
When I was a child and someone mentioned the word “champion,” I had visions of standing on the winner’s podium, wearing a medal and glowing with pride as the crowd erupted with applause. Now that I’m an adult, and more importantly, a Toastmaster,I know the word “champion” means so much more.
Championis a rich and complex word. As a noun, it highlights the leader, the most skilled or adept person in a competition. And, as a verb, to champion means to get behind someone or something, to lift up and empower.
The truest champions embody this word in both ways. Not only do they prove themselves to be exceptionally skilled, they also prove themselves to be deeply humble as they celebrate and empower others.
Most Toastmasters have discovered that having a mentor is the fastest way to get to their desired targets and goals. Our organization isn’t alone in this, of course — corporations, for example, invest thousands into their own mentoring programs. What’s different about Toastmasters is that mentorship has been part of the formula for success since the beginning.
“We realize that the two most important factors in Toastmasters are Mentoring and Evaluations,” said our founder, Dr. Ralph Smedley. “There is no doubt that if these two are done well and there is a good mentoring program, your club will be filled with spark plugs ready to fire upon request. Mentoring and evaluations create enthusiasm and once you light that fire the only thing it needs is some kindling.”
Planning a Toastmasters Conference is no small commitment — and it’s no small opportunity, either! A conference is a chance to highlight our efforts as an organization and to showcase our individual growth, as well. It pushes everyone involved to discover new ways of collaborating, new ways of communicating, and new ways of presenting information and insights.
Of course, great conferences don’t happen in a vacuum. They begin with great leadership. A strong Program Quality Director sets the tone for the event long before the conference is announced — and when the tone is right, it’s something everyone can feel in the air. It’s electric. It’s exciting! It’s an energy that is worth the hard work and long hours.