Arduous was the Valley Toastmasters’ word of the day last Tuesday, and it seemed fitting.
The meeting included awards recognizing several long journeys. Three members received Competent Communicator pins for many months of preparation, speeches and 6:15 a.m. meetings, and one Toastmaster attained the public speaking and leadership group’s highest award — Distinguished Toastmaster.
District Director Joanna DeSantos was in town from Ketchikan to recognize the club members’ achievements.
Joyce Vick, who has been a Toastmaster for more than 11 years, was the recipient of the Distinguished Toastmaster medal.
“I’m releived,” Vick said. “I’ve worked so hard for it. It’s kind of the ultimate goal for a Toastmaster.”
She said her desire to achieve the rank became a specific goal during a Toastmasters conference in Malaysia, where she encountered others with the rank.
Ultimately earning the rank required delivering more than 50 speeches over the years.
Vick said she’d have difficulty picking an all-time favorite speech.
“I love them all,” Vick said. “There isn’t one I haven’t enjoyed speaking.”
Although, she said the first speech she had to give — known as the icebreaker — was probably her least favorite.
While it was mostly enjoyable, Vick said attaining the rank still took dogged detirmination.
“It’s presistance,” she said. “You keep doing things that make you a little uncomfortable.”
Other club members gushed about Vick, and one joked she wanted to “be like Joyce” when she grows up.
Club President Jenn Berger and several others particularly noted Vick’s enthusiasm .
“The word that comes to mind for me is vibrance,” Berger said. “Not only does it seem like you’re always having fun, but that you’re having a blast.”
Vick returned the compliments.
“I think it’s a great group of selfless people,” Vick said.
Berger, who has been a Toastmaster for two years, was one of the trio who rose to the rank of Competent Communicator.
The other two members to do so were Chip Wisner, the club’s Sargeant at Arms, and Mark Stauffer.
Berger, Wisner and Stauffer all said they joined Toastmasters to improve their public speaking skills.
Unlike Vick, the Competent Communicators all said their favorite speech was the icebreaker, even though it was difficult.
“It’s hard to share the layers of your real self,” Berger said.
But, Berger Wisner and Stauffer said things gradually improved.
“Each time it got easier and easier,” Wisner said.
The meeting itself
In addition to handing out awards, the Toastmasters conducted business as usual.
That meant a prompt start, warm up talks featuring attempts to weave in the word of the day, a pair of speeches and some constructive feedback.
There was hardly an idle moment in the hour-long meeting that was attended by about a dozen coffee-clutching Toastmasters and guests.
Berger said attendance was slightly stronger than usual, and the club hopes to continue to grow.
“I hope people will consider trying out a meeting,” she said.