Coaches Corner


Is It Communication?

"What? …how could you not know about the meeting? I emailed you the information."

"How could you not know the purpose of the meeting? It was in the E-news."

"Why didn’t you come to the celebration? I sent you an E-vite."

"Didn’t you receive the Text alert?"

"Late again! You should have been able to plan for the meeting it was on the Google Calendar."

Sound familiar? Well, if you live in the same world I do, one or more of those questions/situations confronts you at least once in 25 hours. (Would that extra hour really make a difference?) Just as early man and woman put words and meaning to sound and struggled to be understood, we face the same challenge today – being understood. Everyday I try to improve the way I communicate …sometimes successfully, sometimes not so. Today the task is easier and faster…. or is it? I tap a few characters on my smart-phone or computer to send a message to everyone on my address list and go about my business knowing "the message" is out, delivered, and understood. Maybe or maybe not.

Just to make sure I’ll write and publish it as a memorandum or policy then everyone will know for sure what the policy is.

Then to insure complete understanding I’ll just tell you. I’ll get up on the podium, behind the lectern and say it, and you hear it … message delivered. Maybe, maybe not.

None of these communication methods guarantees delivery with the message received and understood as intended. As Toastmasters we know (or should know) none of these methods is the panacea so we keep working to solve the complexity of human communication. This is difficult enough in our own club where we most often use the same language base … overflowing

add to the mix dozens of dialects within a language and dozens of different languages and you have the Toastmasters International Convention at Palm Desert, California.

From August 10 to August 14, it was my honor to represent District 26 at the Toastmasters International Convention, an event billed as a milestone meeting. For the first time district leaders from around the world met, trained, learned, and worked together to improve communication skills. Together we watched the flags of our 116 countries paraded to the stage. We broke bread together and played together. We elected our international officers and together we listened to the nine top speakers deliver their message. Together we selected one to be dubbed “World Champion of Public Speaking.” In my mind they were all winners. I witnessed the power of Toastmasters as I watched our own Ian Humphrey stand and wow the audience as he took first place in the Semi-final contest by reminding us all that life is like a marathon…it’s not about winning, it’s about finishing the race. On Saturday I, along with several thousand in attendance, was entranced as he spoke about life being similar to a prize fight where it’s not about the knock down, it’s about the getting up after the knockdown that matters. Though not judged to be one of the top three speakers in the international contest, Ian’s solid performance and his powerful message proved that the power of the spoken word is still important in this fast paced, internet-based world in which we live.

What I learned from those few days in the desert is that even though we have email, E-vite, and texting, the power of the spoken word is alive and well and more important than ever. I experience first hand that “International” is really a part of our Toastmasters’ world and I saw that even though our cultures differ, we share a common dream to be better communicators and leaders. Our common desire is to communicate more effectively and to make Toastmasters International a positive influence in that process regardless of where we live or how we choose to deliver our message.

Thanks District 26 Toastmasters for giving me this opportunity and allowing me to represent you.

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