A few days ago I had the pleasure to present an educational workshop to members of Toastmasters International, District 36. This was a milestone event for me in my personal and professional development as a Toastmaster. You see, up until now I had presented material which for the most part had come from the curriculum developers who work at the California headquarters (a.k.a., “TI WHQ” or Toastmasters International World Headquarters).
With this event I had submitted several proposals to the fall conference program committee. (Three proposals if the whole story be told.) The conference committee in District 36 then selected the topic which best fit into their program. (And the proposal they selected — “Good grief!” — was the one I thought needed the most time for preparation and research.) Now I was on the hook. Would I be the hero or the goat?
The title of the workshop was KNOW THYSELF. Yes, this title isn’t very original nor very creative. And I compounded this “error” with a long subtitle: Three Simple Exercises You Can Do When It’s Time to Reflect on Your Personal Effectiveness. Additionally for this workshop I provided a Know Thyself – Handout for the attendees on which they could jot a note or doodle.
I also created and displayed a graphic agenda based on the comic strip characters from the Peanuts gang. During my talk I acknowledged the genius of Charles Schulz as well as reminded the audience of how this session fit the fair use clause of U.S. copyright law.
This graphic agenda helped keep the audience on track as each cartoon represented a story and each line between the cartoons marked where we did an exercise.
Without repeating here the WHATs and the HOW TOs of the entire workshop, my intention and plans were to simply lead the audience through three interactive exercises. And as each of these exercises evolved, I’d coach the audience along a path that suggested that we can learn from the interactions between ourselves and others much as Charlie Brown learns of himself and of how his behavior affects the other characters in the Peanuts gang.
Themes for this 75-minute workshop included: envisioning success, defining ME-thinking and WE-thinking, thinking like a champion, and the importance of hiring or becoming a coach.
So how did this educational session go? And what did I learn from working with this audience? Yes, I’m going to have to work on creating more impelling titles and shorter sub-titles. Yes, I ran the risk of losing the attention of a few in the audience who don’t read the Sunday Comics. Yes, I probably tried to pack too much information into the time available.
That said, the results of the post-session evaluations suggest that I did well enough to use this material again. The vast majority of the feedback stated I did “Very Good” to “Excellent.” And there were a number of participants who came up to me afterwards to ask a question or share a personal thank you.
As a speaker, it is the people who come up to talk to you afterwards that I most remember. Some asked for me to explain a point in greater detail. A few asked me if I would share the complete citations from the books I held up during my talk. And several folks asked me if they might explore the option of working with me in the future. (Yay, team!)
So in the spirit of sharing my “cheat sheet,” here’s a link to my one-page “SpeakersNotes” that lists the main talking points. And here too (below the bibliography) are a few photos taken to capture the moment and/or illustrate these key talking points. And as for the four individuals who suggested on their evaluation sheets that I next time provide a bibliography with the one-page handout … Well, I hope you visit this blog.
Brene Brown. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Gotham Books (Penguin Books), New York, New York, 2012
Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources (4th Edition). Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1982.
George Leonary. Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment. Dutton (Penguin Books), New York, New York, 1991.
Ralph C. Smedley. Personally Speaking. Toastmasters International, Santa Ana, California, 1966.
The D36 Fall Conference was held on Nov. 14-15, 2014 in Silver Spring, MD. Here is a photo of the Table Topic contestants. This contest was held immediately after the educational sessions. Which, by the way, is a very good reason to end on time so as not to upset the contest master.
Props … check. Microphone working … Check (but didn’t need it) … Coach’s hat and whistle if the crowd gets out of hand … check (also not needed).
When a leader pauses to reflect on their behavior (“Me-thinking”) and begins to consider others, that’s when “WE-thinking” will emerge.
Here’s a small advertisement or invitation for those who’d like to speak more about hiring or becoming a coach. Yes, if upon reading this blog you too would like to learn more. Drop me a line.
Here’s both the graphic agenda and a few annotations that served as notes from the session.
In today’s day and age of taking “selfies,” there’s always someone who’ll step up and strike a pose with you if you’ve got your smart phone ready.
And at the end of the session there was a certificate of appreciation signed by the district governor, lieutenant governor education and training, conference chair, and education program chair. Wow! A special thank you to Yining Xie, John Kingsman, Fritzie Leroy, and Pamela Copeland (respectively).