Toastmasters, an international organisation committed to improving corporate communications, public speaking as well as management skills of professionals in order to build effective communicators across professions, leaders in business, personal or community life has as part of its activities for the year, changed its leadership in Lagos.
In a change of guard/end of year party by the Lighthouse Toastmasters/Lighthouse Prestige Toastmasters Clubs in Lagos recently, the career changing and skills moulding club brought to the admiration of its guests, some of the activities that constitute its routine meetings and processes of nurturing talents to becoming professional communicators.
In his acceptance speech, the newly installed President, Lighthouse Toastmasters, TM Kayode Yussuf, reflecting on how he joined the club immediately after his graduation from the higher institution and how it has impacted his life and career said his desire to improve himself got him introduced to the club. “I knew I was cut out to be a leader, but how do you lead people when you cannot communicate with them.” And being fascinated by the name, Toastmasters, Kayode said that he was eager to find out what they do. “Well, the name is attractive, the intent is also attractive.
The first time I stepped into a Toastmasters meeting was the only time I went as a guest, because the next time I came, I came as a member and that was because it was the first place I went to, that I saw everyone speaking the way I would love to.
Stating that while he could not get the needed help from some materials he had sourced for that purpose before joining the club, said “Actually before I went for that meeting, I had downloaded podcasts from the Internet, I had watched videos and read books but none seemed to give me the principal understanding of my search to improve on my public speaking.”
Speaking further, Yussuf hinted that after joining toastmasters that he has been able to find relevance, purpose, reasons to forge ahead. “I am much happier now, not because of position but of the impact the club has had on his life and career,” he added.
Describing the club to be like a school, the President however said that it was not the type one goes through the rigours of going to classes and other school routine. According Yussuf, “the way we do it is by seeing people do it and also by doing it ourselves. It is like a school but not the type you go through the rigours of going to classes and all of that. So, what we simply do, is when we meet, people prepare speeches, we have evaluators who will evaluate them. It is a very simple and cheap way of learning public speaking,” he said.
Also, in his acceptance speech, the President, Lighthouse Prestige Toastmasters, TM Ikenna Chukuwujekwu hinted that the journey into Toastmasters Club has thus far been an interesting one. “I have been a part of the executive committee from the inception of Lighthouse Prestige Toastmasters Club, first as the Vice President, Public Relations, and Vice President, Education. I have been privileged to serve with people who are passionate about Toastmasters.”
Speaking on the selfless, professional and cooperation he had enjoyed with different teams he had worked with, said “I cannot think of a better group of people to work with than my current team members. Against all odds, we have and we will continue to work by the core values of Toastmasters which are commitment to integrity, respect, service and excellence, he declared.
Describing his experience since joining the club as amazing, Chukwujekwu said the club is characterised with a positive influence, coming from people who are willing to share from their wealth of experience. And reaffirming his commitment towards attaining the organisation’s set goals, said, “We are moving on, we have not come to drop the balls but to aim high and score goals. During the five years and five months of taking up these positions, we have encountered challenges regarding increase in membership dues, foreign exchange and other financial challenges of running a Toastmasters club. Challenging it has been but in all of these, we do not see challenges but opportunities to live up to our commitment to excellence,” he said.
Enumerating some of the benefits and transformation effect of Toastmasters has on members, Chukwujekwu disclosed that some people after joining Toastmasters for some years, drop out of their profession to speak for a living.
According to him, “Toastmasters is a platform where someone can improve himself to a point of being a professional speaker. Toastmasters can actually take just a regular person to a point where he can sell his skills and train people. The club helps us to see the value of communication either one on one, as a family or a larger organisation,” he said.
With about 9,000 Toastmasters around the world, the President said that the life and career changing club has it presence in various cities like Kano, Benin, Lagos, Port Harcourt, among other cities in Nigeria, even as works towards establishing more would in Ibadan and Enugu.
In a prepared speech, titled ‘Your Past is the Building Blocks of the Future’, TM Tara Lanlehin disclosed that sharing ones past may help someone’s future. And when people look back into their past, it will tell them how far they have come and what they need to do for the future.
According to Tara, “If we as Nigerians were so serious about changing our future, there are enough things in our past to make our story different. We just need to be willing to look into the past, pick out the key lessons and make sure we take the major things we learnt from it. Remember, your past is the building block of the future. Remember that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past,” she said.