Speak With Confidence

What is Leadership?

In CC Manual, Speech #6: Vocal Variety, Speeches on April 17, 2011 at 3:54 pm

by Linda Li

Linda Li gave an interesting speech about leadership and its potential misconceptions. She used her earliest concept of leadership (learned from her family) and showed, using specific examples from her own life, the process by which she shifted her perception to the leadership model she values today.

She didn’t write out her speech and recite it – rather, she used the following as notes to refer to when needed. (But, as with most heartfelt speeches, she barely referred to her notes at all.)

  1. What is leadership?

I’d like to ask you to close your eyes and ask the following questions in your mind:

    • Who is the leader in your family?
    • Who is the leader at your work?
    • Who is the greatest politician leader that you really admire?

What’s the first impression that they bring to your mind? Is it power, respect, or taking control?

  1. Leadership = power, respect? NO

As a teenager, I read biographies of great leaders. I interpreted great leaders to be above all other people, powerful, and controlling everything.

But recently, through observation of things surrounding me; I realized I was so wrong! Leadership is more about motivating other people to grow and achieve the common goal.

The leaders from Toastmasters are excellent examples. We have very great leaders here, not because they have power to collect the dues, but because they help other members conquer their fears and improve their speaking skills. At my workplace, I’ve been seeing that a great manager helps employee achieve their own goals while contributing to the company.

Leadership = helping a group of people to achieve common goal

  1. What are the barriers blocking you from becoming a great leader?

Barrier 1: Overemphasizing Personal Goals

True leadership is about making other people better as a result of your presence—and making sure your impact endures in your absence. That doesn’t mean leaders are selfless. They have personal goals—to build status, a professional identity, and a retirement plan, among other things. But the narrow pursuit of those goals can lead to self-protection and self-promotion, neither of which fosters other people’s success.

I once heard a friend say, “I don’t want to work with that manager anymore. Everything he does is to secure his position.” At first I thought, Yeah, that’s what a leader is supposed to do. But my friend continued, “So because this guy is so self-serving, a lot of my co-workers are applying for jobs somewhere else.” Something clicked for me in that – I started to think that maybe to be a good leader, overemphasizing personal goals could do more harm than good.

Barrier 2: Protecting Your Public Image

Another common impediment to leadership is being overly distracted by your image—that ideal self you’ve created in your mind. Sticking to the script that goes along with that image takes a lot of energy, leaving little left over for the real work of leadership.

For example: as a leader, you may want to build a friendly manner. But a friendly image may restrict you from asking tough questions sometimes. Or maybe you want to build a no-nonsense, tough leadership image. But that will make you unapproachable, blocking people from communicating with you.

A good leader needs to draw their image from within, and be flexible with it – being tough when a situation calls for it, and approachable when an employee has an idea or an issue they’d like to discuss. Being a slave to a rigid public image is not leading – it’s more like following a script, and doesn’t foster anyone’s growth.

Barrier 3: Going It Alone

Another barrier is going it alone. In my family, my dad plays the big role of leader. The whole family listens to him, because he supports not only our small family, but his sibling’s families as well. He is highly respected, but I think if he would only listen to other family members’ suggestions, he would be a happier, stronger leader.

 Linda concluded with an appeal to the audience to rethink how we see leaders – if we share any of her misconceptions, she suggests we take a close look at the style of leadership that helps us grow, and try to model our own leadership on that, not on some fixed image of what we think leadership is supposed to look like.

Richmond Fosters Excellence

In Club Events, Contests on April 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm

by Robin Spano

Toastmasters gets a lot right. They know how to encourage, motivate, and teach members to find their best speaking voice. Contest season highlights these strengths with a bang.

On April 5, 2011, the 17 clubs in Division E, covering all of Richmond and Delta BC, met to battle it out in the International Speech and Evaluation contests.

Let me start by oh-so-impartially saying that Richmond Toastmasters took home the gold. Our one little club can sure foster excellence. Reg Boaler and Richard Belleza took top prize for International Speech and Evaluation respectively. Both will move on to represent Division E in the District level (that’s all of British Columbia) at the Osoyoos Spring Conference. (There are still 25 spots left – book now to cheer them on.)

But the success is not Richmond Toastmasters‘ alone. Members from the entire division pitched in to pack the WorkSafe BC Auditorium with an enthusiastic crowd. Competition was both fierce and friendly.

Opening the event was Jim Horne, VP Ed at the Comp-Talk club and the man who scored us this free auditorium. (Hey, when you’re a non-profit, free is what keeps you in business.) As Sergeant-At-Arms, Jim set the stage with a warm welcome. I dream of being that smooth and personable one day.

Next up came Cindy Chan, DTM and Division E’s governor – dressed to kill as the evening’s MC & one o

f thehard-working organizers.  Her enthusiasm coupled with her professionalism created a dynamic and organized evening.

Jared Nicola inspired us with a beautiful story about overcoming adversity. He’s new to Richmond Toastmasters, but you’d never know this from the way he tells a story – heartfelt, and with a killer choice of words that bring you right to the scene of wherever he’s taking you.

Freddy Irani chaired the International Speech contest – another relative newcomer to Richmond TM who already owns the room with his polish and charisma. I also love his quirky humour – his speech, Best of the Best, will forever make me remember the drunken monkey in my brain.

The three competing speakers came next:

  1. Patsy O’Connell, from MDA Toastmasters, made us laugh at her family quirks and drama with a comedic speech entitled “Dining Out.”
  2. Reg Boaler represented Richmond Toastmasters with his winning speech about bullying. He managed to pull our hearts in all kinds of directions, making us laugh, then gasp, then feel our hearts sink through the auditorium floor.
  3. Jeff Huang from Richdel gave a speech we could all relate to, talking about how Toastmasters’ many roles have helped him grow as a human.

While the ballots were being counted, Christophe Bignolas (yup, Richmond TM) interviewed the contestants with some off-the wall questions, like “How good a husband is your husband?” and “How would you convince me to drop my job to be a software engineer.” Another new member who is already shining with originality and polish.

We had a break with some mingling – has anyone else noticed their cocktail party confidence increasing since joining Toastmasters? I fully credit the mingling portion of the evening for this.

Sylvia Orellana was next to take the stage as Evaluation Contest chair. I found this fitting – Sylvia evaluated my Icebreaker speech, and I always marvel at her warm, insightful evaluations. Sylvia was also a co-chair of this contest night, and is our current club president at Richmond Toastmasters.

Our test speaker was Jack Ja (someone please correct my spelling – for secrecy reasons, he wasn’t listed on the program and I’m going by phonetics alone). His compelling topic was “Are You a Prisoner of Your Comfort Zone?” Of course we were all glued to his advice to “throw out the bow lines and sail away from the safe harbour.”

When the evaluation contestants were escorted out of the room, Doug Thiessen took the stage to give us an education session about how to deliver a winning evaluation, including the valuable advice about always going more specific. Too bad the evaluators were unable to listen in!

Evaluating Jack were 4 evaluators with extremely different styles:

  1. Linda Wu from MDA Toastmasters owned the stage from moment one. She opened with a quote,used no notes until the middle of her speech, and kept the audience riveted with her insightful evaluation and dynamic performance.
  2. Norman Kotze could have walked right out of a high-level think tank. His detailed analysis was thought-provoking, and his European accent made him sound even smarter. (Can someone let me know what club he was repping? I didn’t get a chance to interview him.)
  3. Richmond Toastmasters‘ Richard Belleza was full of specific observations and clear points of improvement. He made it personal and he sandwiched his meat with positive summation as opening and closing remarks. I learned from him – both as a speaker and an evaluator.
  4. William Mok from RichDel came front and center stage immediately and gave a detailed analysis with excellent points of improvement. You’d think he’d written a computer program about effective evaluation.

I’d be happy with any of these four evaluating my speech…hmmm….kind of makes you want to be a test speaker, doesn’t it?

Next Mike Rozen cracked us up with a stand-up routine where he reminded us of some of our childhood technology, like Pong and TV before those automated guides. This guy would put Seinfeld to shame. (Seriously, I think Mike is funnier.)

May South Potato came up to interview the evaluation contestants. Oh wait? May, that’s not your last name? That’s totally what Cindy said. May announced to the room “I am not a potato,” and let us know that actually her last name is Soo-Tveita. May was also the primary engine behind this contest night – organizing Richmond Toastmasters into supporting roles that both challenged participants and made for a great show (hard combo, but May is good).

Behind the scenes, Chief Judge Jack Chiang organized his team of judges: Norman Davie from Top Story Advanced Toastmasters, Gene Vickers (Lt. Governor of Marketing for the District), Veronica Armstrong of the Talking Watchdogs, Richard Nash of Richmond TM (and an active player during the contest organization), and Cori Ng of Richmond TM.

Thanks also to Lorna Boyle (assistant Sgt.-at-Arms, of Deltones), Rome Gallardo (music man), Patrick McRea (timer), Linda Li, Larry Law, and Andrew Scallion (Greeters), Anna Brooks and Sylvia Orellana (Reception), Rome Gallardo again and Jody Chan (ballot counters), Tony Cheung (photographer), Andrew Scallion again (videographer), Ben Tong & Eunice Cheng (foodmasters), Doris Wong, Vicki Wang, Richard Li (decorators/general helpers). Whew. If anyone’s been forgotten, please let me know and I’ll edit them in!

In closing, Cindy gave out goody bags to helpers and Gene Vickers made an interesting announcement: He’s interested in facilitating the birth of specialized clubs. (For details, check your email – if you’re a BC Toastmaster, you received it in your inbox yesterday.)

Naturally, the winners were announced – Richmond taking home the gold in both categories thanks to the talented Reg Boaler and Richard Belleza – and we went for drinks at a nearby pub.

Bring on the next level. Osoyoos, here we come.

***If anyone named here has a website, blog, or any other online profile they’d like their name to link to, please email me: robin@robinspano.com and I’ll set it up. The goal of this Richmond TM blog is to help members create their own web presence, so linking is what it’s all about.

Awesome Contest Night

In Club Events on March 13, 2011 at 3:57 am

by Patrick McCrea

On the 8th of March, Richmond Toastmasters had two dazzling contests.

The first was the Evaluation Contest. Each evaluator had two minutes and thirty seconds to evaluate a guest speaker. We were lucky to have Lorna Boyle as our guest speaker. She talked about her late parents – a hard topic to speak about and she pulled the speech off with fine elegance. She told us how they met to their final days.

Five evaluators then took the podium. First was Reg Boaler and he gave a great evaluation. He talked with keen insight about how Lorna performed. Next up, Rome Gallardo focused on the poem that Lorna’s father had written to his wife, and pointed out the positives of the speech. Third, Sylvia Orellana acknowledged that if she had done this speech it would have been too emotional for her; she complimented Lorna on the great job she did. Richard was fourth and he focused on the positives and liked the flow of the speech. Fifth and finally, Mike Rozen focused on the humour that Lorna inserted into the speech. Each evaluator had the same comments on the negative: she did not move through the stage and started out with nerves but overcame them as she got into the speech.

After the break we had the International Contest. In this contest, each speaker had 5-7 minutes to entertain us with a topic of their choosing. We had five speakers take the podium.

First was Sylvia Orellana. Her speech was about traffic violations. She was entertaining, witty and funny. Second, Dmitrey Zakharov brought his magic to the podium. His speech was about success and what defines success. His main message was only you can define if you’re a success or a failure – a powerful message delivered with an intense story. Third, we were enchanted by the wonderful speech by May Soo-Tveita. May had a strong and powerful speech about ridicule for being too skinny. She delivered her message with strength: Who should define if you’re too skinny or too plump? Freddy Irani took the stage fourth and helped us to curb the drunken monkey with his speech The Best of the Best. This was an entertaining speech that involved the audience. Reg was the fifth and final speaker of the evening, with a powerful story about how bullying affected his life and one of his childhood friends. He delivered the message from the heart.

Now for the winners . . . I believe they all did a very good job and all are winners. But:

Evaluation Contest 1st Place: Richard Belleza, 2nd Place: Sylvia Orellana, 3rd Place: Reg Boaler.

International Contest 1st Place: Reg Boaler, 2nd Place Dmitrey Zakharov, 3rd Place: Freddy Irani.

Thanks to all who participated in this successful event. It was very entertaining. I cannot wait until next year.

Richmond Toastmasters would like to thank Andrew Scallion, the Chairman and Paul Luo, the Chief Judge for making sure the contest ran smoothly. We also want to thank the contestants for both contests for going outside their comfort zone – without them, there is no contest. Thank you also to the judges, counters, timer, sergeant at arms, food and room, jokemaster, photographer and calligrapher. We look forward to the Area Contest on March 29, where the top two contestants from each category move on to compete against the Deltones and Ambassadors clubs.

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