Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The 2014 Fall Contest winner for District 53.

International President of Toastmasters, 
Mohammed Murad with Bill Sullivan 
at the District 53 Conference

Cromwell Community Toastmasters is proud to have a District Speech Contest winner in our midst.

Longtime Toastmaster Bill Sullivan recently competed in Toastmaster’s annual Fall contest and took his humorous speech about corporate productivity processes and laundry all the way for the win! Myself a member of Cromwell Community Toastmasters, I took the opportunity to interview Mr. Sullivan about his experiences.

Bill Sullivan, Thanks for taking the time to chat with me about your recent achievements and your Toastmaster journey. How long have you been a Toastmaster? 

I have been a Toastmaster for 6 years. I joined in January 2008.

And what originally drew you to the group? 

I have worked for the same company for 23 years. I love my job and the people I work with. As I was increasingly being asked to speak in front of different groups, I knew that I needed to gain better experience in public speaking if I was to feel comfortable in front of a larger audience. I had heard about Toastmasters while listening to a business book on tape by Jack Walsh, CEO of GE. I researched online, off and on, for a long time and finally made it a New Year’s Resolution to join.

That leads me to ask; Has Toastmasters helped you in your professional life?

Greatly. I use Toastmasters every day at work. Whether it's speaking in front of a group, presenting to customers, running meetings, inspiring employees or providing feedback, I am always referencing my experience in Toastmasters to help me communicate my message. I have found that Toastmasters is the only organization that provides members with the day to day knowledge of management and communication skills that is directly connected to being successful. 

It makes perfect sense that Toastmasters is effective in contributing to career success, but has Toastmasters helped you in your personal life?

Very much so. I have found that I am more willing to volunteer when asked because of my Toastmasters skills and the confidence I have gained through Toastmasters helps me know that I can bring valuable experience to any project. It has also helped me to recognize those moments when it is necessary to reach out to someone at a meeting or social gather who may just need a little nudge to be included in the conversation. This effort has allowed me to befriend individuals with whom I may not have had the opportunity before. Many of these relationships I still have today.

What officer positions have you held in the club?

My first officer position was Secretary of the club. When I joined the club had no Secretary so I decided to jump in with both feet. I was the club’s President in 2009 and the VP of Membership in 2010. This year I am Vice President of Education.

[VPE (Vice President of Education) is a very important officer position. Toastmasters has two education tracks. One is the Competent Communicator track, the CC.  It consists of ten speech projects designed to teach different aspects of public speaking such as, organizing your thoughts, using body language and using your voice effectively to communicate your message. When completed the member is said to have earned their Toastmasters CC. The second track is Leadership with a series of projects in the Competent Leader manual. When complete, the member has earned their CL. The VPE helps members track their progress in all education manuals.]

Along with the comprehensive public speaking and communication track, Toastmasters has an excellent leadership track that teaches you the basics of being a leader; from how to listen, to how to run a successful meeting. As VPE I continually remind members that it's easy and fun to start working on their CL as soon as possible. Once you have started the leadership track volunteering to help the club becomes much easier. Every time a member signs up for a role as Grammarian, as Timer, as Evaluator, our whole club reminds them to take credit for the roles in the CL as well as to sign up for specific positions that help fulfill the projects in the CL.

What Toastmaster awards have you achieved and what are you currently working towards?

After a member earns their CC we can begin work towards advanced certifications. First to follow the CC is an ACB – Advanced Communicator Bronze, then ACS – Advanced Communicator Silver, then ACG – Advanced Communicator Gold. Ten additional Speech Projects from a variety of possible manuals must be completed for each advanced certification. I had great fun working from the “Humorously Speaking” and the “Entertaining Speaker” manuals to get my ACB. For my ACS I completed the “Storytelling” and “Persuasive Speaking” manuals. I am working towards my ACG certificate currently with the "The Professional Speaker" manual and "Speeches by Management" manual. I have also been awarded the Advanced Leadership Bronze award.

Have you competed in contests before?

District 53 Governor, Bette McIntyre with
Bill Sullivan at the District 53 Conference

I try to encourage participation in the club and I enter each contest every year, or if needed, I volunteer to help run the contest. So you might imagine I compete in these realms a lot. I've had some memorable experiences with contests. Twice I went as far as the District level contests. The first time, in November 2012, I went all the way to the District 53 finals in the evaluation category. I was fortunate to place first in the Evaluation Contest that year. This year I placed first in the 2014 District 53 Humorous Speech Contest. It was the second time that I had entered the Humorous Contest. The first time I made it as far as the Division level, but I learned that to win you really need to be confident in your speaking ability and really connect with the audience. It gave me great insight into how well prepared the other Toastmasters were. I took what I learned at that contest and applied it this year. Winning Toastmaster contests is a big achievement but I truly feel that the experience gained participating in these events and the support shared amongst the folks attending and competing is the greatest reward.

If you had advice to give to the larger world – both toastmasters and non-toastmasters alike – what would it be?

We are often told that if we set our mind to something we can achieve almost anything. But this thought process needs to be accompanied by a plan of action. Generally a good plan of action includes many, many small steps. Toastmasters has a proven step by step process that takes you from small opportunities to speak, to the ability to deliver expansive presentations, while making you feel comfortable every step of the way. If you asked me when I first joined Toastmasters if I ever would compete in a speech contest the answer came easy to me "NO." But today I’m a different person. I am more confident in my speaking ability and I believe I owe that to Cromwell Community Toastmasters and the Toastmasters education program.
Thank you Bill for taking the time to share with us.

Toastmasters International is an international organization that teaches Public Speaking and Leadership skills. TMI thrives in 126 countries with over 14,000 clubs. Cromwell Community Toastmasters is proud to be a part of this 90 year old organization. We meet twice a month at the Cromwell Town Hall, on the first and third Tuesday of every month from 5:30pm to 7:30 pm. Upcoming meetings include January 20th, February 2nd, and February 16th.

Any last words Bill?

I encourage anyone who is looking to grow and learn, to come visit one of our meetings. Come see what Toastmasters is all about. Visiting is free and guests are always welcome.

See you at the next meeting!

No comments:

Post a Comment