Q: What brought you to Toastmasters?
A: I was a Toastmaster in my mind for over ten years. My responsibilities never seemed to open up time for a factual meeting. Then in 2013 I decided that I would commit to one hour per week at Toastmasters after finding a lunch time club. That was the beginning of my membership. I am so happy I made that commitment.
Q: How has it helped your career? –
A: Toastmasters has opened up several doors in my career. I have received offers from them to speak at workshops and regional summits. In addition, I now qualify for new leadership positions based on my shown improved communication.
Q: How has Toastmasters helped you personally?
A: Personally, I am better equipped with listening skills. I feel my relationships have improved. I am more present and listen intently.
Q: What is your process for developing a speech idea?
A: Speech ideas start with just talking. Often I will be sharing a story with someone and their reaction is one that makes me think, “that may be a good speech”. From there, I will sign-up for a speech. I do not write the speech, I simple “talk it out”. While talking it out I record and then transcribe. I review the transcription and make structural decisions. In addition, I carry a little red book where I write “colorful language” that I hear all day. I am a speech geek.
Q: What has helped you most to develop an award winning speech?
A: People help me. Listening, and paying attention to people is the key for me. One’s reality is their truth and the more realities you know, the better you can reach people.
Q: You’ve been practicing your award-winning speech throughout the District in preparation for your trip to Las Vegas. Are you getting nuggets that help you to refine your delivery and make your speech into a world-class presentation?
A: Yes. I am learning to be patient with the process. Sometimes I change just one word but the one word has a major impact on the crowd. The process of learning that is BRILLIANT. As a life-long learning, I am smitten with learning and the process.
Q: Your schedule of speaking engagements looks grueling. How to you keep your speech fresh and not sound over rehearsed?
A: HA!!! That is funny. Actually, I do not do the same thing at every club. Sometimes, I just talk. Other times, I practice. It’s really all in how I feel. I have two goals; listen to the district for which I am representing so I can take a little piece of everyone and stage time, feeling the good the bad while learning my rhythm.
Q: On the day of competition, what’s your favorite way to prepare for your seven minutes on stage?
A: I do nothing with my speech. I like to enjoy time with people I love.
Q: What do you do for relaxation? Favorite foods? Tell us a little about Libra, what makes you tick. (Human interest stuff)
Y: Relaxation, what is that? I am a currently playing out my Parent Monologue (this is my way of saying, I am a single parent). Finding time can be a challenge but I try to keep my appointments with myself. I love to workout. This is relaxing and often gets my “mind right”. This is going to sound weird but I find it very relaxing when I am developing myself. Whether its self-help reading, or taking a training course. I love to hang with my girls. I have wonderful daughters who are not just amazing kids but amazing human beings. We like to do water sports, Stand-up Paddling, Beach walks. I also love community service activities. I take my girls on community projects like feeding the homeless, reading to children with literacy concerns and more.
My favorite pass time is dedicating my time to women who have survived domestic violence. It is extremely rewarding to sit and listen to them when they need an ear. The empowerment of people is a profound joy in my life.
Q: I understand that Toastmasters International provides competitors with a round trip ticket to the convention. Are you seeking sponsors to help defray your costs? If people want to contribute to your expenses, how can they reach you? (website with paypal??)
A: Yes, I am currently ready to fly to Vegas. Toastmasters has provided my round trip ticket. The lodging is my responsibility. In addition, my daughters would love to attend. Their travel and registration (for the speech contest) will need to be covered. We have started a gofundme account (https://www.gofundme.com/w8guenc/donate). We also will celebrate ‘Freedom from Fear of Speaking” month on July 12, 2015 at 4:00pm go to http://babble-ontm.org/ for details on location. This event will be filled with fun, food, fellowship, donation and prize winning opportunities.
Phyllis Harmon joined Toastmasters in 2008. She is an active member of seven clubs, serving as Treasurer for Toastmasters for Speaking Professionals and Wallmasters Interrnational,, and as VP Education for Storymasters. She is also serving as the current District 7 Governor.