Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Toastmasters: An Obituary

I have been the President of my company's Toastmasters Club for more than a year. I’ve loved the club, the people and being the leader and mentor for this group of inspiring, determined people.

That’s why it pains me to say that it looks as if our Club is going to have to close its doors. Annual fees have come due and a large majority of our members will not renew.

Due to the state of the company, they will not longer be paying for training and development costs for their employees and people are unwilling to pay for their club fees out of their own pockets. And sadly, the club has been deteriorating for some time. Membership is decreasing as layoffs increase. Attendance is down as people are overloaded with work and participation is limited because people simply can’t focus on personal development in a company that doesn’t make it a priority.

Toastmasters is far from synonymous with cool. It’s generally a club of somewhat socially awkward, introverted folks petrified of public speaking. I read that public speaking is the world’s greatest fear, ranking higher even than things like death by fire or plane crashes.

Coolness aside, it truly is one of the most effective forums I’ve seen to help people come out of their shells and become more confident speakers and communicators. I could go on for pages about the benefits of this club. The things I have learned as both a member and the President have been absolutely invaluable.

That is why I’m sad to see it fall apart in front of me despite my best efforts.

All is not lost of course. Toastmasters is well-known around the world and the GTA alone has more than 50 different clubs. I’ll transfer my membership to somewhere new but I’ll always feel a little sad about this Club that failed… with me at the helm.


April said...
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April said...

Miranda, it's not your fault.
It is a shame the company won't support it when people need to be working on their skills. It just seems like a vicious circle. The company has no money, so can't support development, so employees lose motivation and have less-competitive skills compared to other, more successful companies, so the company loses money, so they can't support development....

I know this because the same sort of shit is happening at newspapers. They're cutting budgets everywhere and it's only going to hurt them in the long run. Why can't companies just accept lower profit margins, dammit?!