The countdown has begun to unveiling the newest Toastmasters Club in Lagos, bringing the total number of Clubs in Nigeria to thirty five. This development will evoke joy in the heart of every Toastmaster all over the world, especially Toastmasters in Nigeria. Ambassador Vincent Sonny Okobi, who planted Toastmasters in Nigeria, will indeed be overjoyed, seeing that the spark he ignited has become a roaring flame. Ralph Smedley’s work to groom men and women who can speak with confidence and lead with total integrity begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on. By joining Toastmaster, you begin the transformation from an all comers industry-following caterpillar to an agenda setting butterfly.
Toastmasters International, whose current tagline is where leaders are made, was formed in 1924 with the purpose to teach young adults how to speak well. Today there are more than 15,900 clubs in 142 countries with membership exceeding 345,000. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders.
Some three years before I joined Toastmasters, I’d I read an article I considered one of the best articles of all time. It was about excellence and the art of platform mastery. Towards the end of the article the author remarked with an air of finality ‘‘if you wish to write and speak as phenomenally as I do, join Toastmasters’’. I smiled in my heart and thought silently if I could ever paint, mold and weave as well as the sculptor of that article. I let it rest.
A year later I attended a seminar organized by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria at the then Hilton Hotel, Abuja. Of the ten or so presenters, one towered above the rest. His presentation was electric, he presented with class and panache. The whole presentation was enriched with multimedia – video and audio clips – and well laid out. I was curious! I chatted with him during the coffee break. You know what he told me? He said, ‘’Paul (looking at my name tag) you know what, if you wish to be able to present the way I just presented, join Toastmasters.’’ That’s when it sank in, and the scales fell from my dreamy eyes. The mysterious man who wrote the article I earlier mentioned and the Abuja exquisite presenter are today my mentors and I am honoured to call TM Richmond Dayo Johnson and TM Kyari Bukar my friends.
I didn’t need a seer to tell me that Toastmasters was the place to be. I joined Toastmasters in 2007, and three years later I was humbled to be inducted the fifth President of Eagle Toastmasters Club, Victoria Island, Lagos. With the change of baton, the work to bring more Nigerians to enjoy the benefits Toastmasters offers fell squarely on my shoulders.
William Blake it was that said, “on one side there are things that are known, on the other side there are things that are unknown, in between them are always doors.” If you finish reading this piece and truly desire to be the best that you can be, extend your influence, and communicate with panache, I wish to urge you to use the door of opportunity that Toastmasters offers to move your act to world class. The best time to have started was yesterday, the next best time is now. As a member of Techno Oil Toastmasters Club, the newest club in the world, should someone accost you and ask, tell me one good reason why I should join Toastmasters, tell the person, because there are no prizes for average performance! Welcome Techno Oil Toastmasters Club.