Dana Nease had been a Toastmaster for 10 days when she met Ted Corcoran, Past International President of Toastmasters, at club officer training for divisions K and L, where he was the keynote speaker.
Her new club, Kelowna AM, was organizing the event, and a week after joining, she volunteered to help. If she didn’t know if before, she learned one valuable life lesson from Ted: It is in giving that we receive.
While everyone else was taking officer training, Dana was receiving training from one of the best Toastmasters in the world. “Instead of resting and preparing for his closing speech, Ted chose to share his pearls of wisdom with me,” said Dana.
Dana had joined Toastmasters because she thought the new year was a perfect time to explore personal and professional growth. Ten days later, she heard what the Irish version of the perfect Toastmaster sounds like — and was inspired. “Ted was passionate, heartfelt and motivating as he told his story of what to expect from Toastmasters — from reviewing the organization’s core values to overcoming the challenges of club goals. He shared his expertise regarding cultivating new membership and how to strengthen leadership. I knew then that I had made the right decision to join.
Ted was equally impressed with Dana, and during his speech, acknowledged her as someone exemplifying Toastmasters’ core values.
While Ted was mentoring Dana about the additional benefits of Toastmasters program (a sense of camaraderie and belonging, goal-setting, networking, and building solid personal and professional relationships, etc.) a college student asked if she could have a cup of coffee.
“Of course, I replied,” said Dana. “I asked her if she was with Toastmasters. She wasn’t, but she asked me all about the program. Ted just watched. After five minutes, she was hooked and made a plan to join the Toastmasters Okanagan College Club the following Wednesday. In Ted’s wrap-up speech, he took the time to acknowledge me, a newbie. I can’t tell you how I will cherish that moment for a long time.”
Everyone loves Ted’s stories
It wasn’t just newbies impressed and inspired by the Irish raconteur, the vets and the DTMs also raved about his charm, his storytelling and his willingness to share his knowledge.
“His conversational style was one of the aspects I particularly loved about his presentations,” said Moya Webb, DTM, president of Okanagan College Toastmasters.
“He had taken the time to get to know a few people in the audience and with just the little joke here and there, it began to feel like a group of friends talking rather than a keynote speaker broadcasting to a large group. That was quite an achievement I thought, a true gift to be able to connect to a group as individuals. His phenomenal memory and ability to offer that specific piece of advice here and there that was pertinent to the situation, was also inspiring.”
Lorne Barker, ALB ACS, shared Dana’s and Moya’s enthusiasm for Ted the speaker and Ted the man. “I found the best part of Ted’s speaking was his easy-going manner and humour interjected throughout his talks. Personal stories also enhanced each speech that he gave,” said Lorne, president of Kelowna Toastmasters. “I learned we should never stop educating ourselves. We should always strive to do our best and we should always take every opportunity to give back to Toastmasters what it has given us.”
Sofia Simeonidis, CC, was so impressed with Ted, she was quoting him two weeks later at an executive meeting of the OC club, where she is Sergeant at Arms. Like everyone who heard Ted speak, Sofia got a few tips about speaking, listening, evaluating and leading, but like Dana, her biggest take always were life lessons.
“The magic of life happens when we step outside our comfort zone,” she said. “Ted became a president of his club on his first meeting, so when you dare to take chances in life you grow, new avenues open, you live.”
That has added meaning when you realize that English is a second language for Sofia and Toastmasters poses a much greater challenge for her. On her business card it says: “P.S. If something sounds Greek to you, it’s because I am A Greek.”
That’s something that would cause a chuckle in an Irishman like Ted — and something he would borrow for a future speech because he knows that the only real sin is seeing a good idea, or story, and not stealing it.
~ Ross Freake