Talking to Ted Corcoran, Past International President


“People have learned to talk. They have not learned to communicate. That’s why Toastmasters is so important.” It’s Ted Corcoran speaking, and he is very enthusiastic about his subject.


“Toastmasters has a well-established programme that has been proven successful over many years. It has evolved over time, and it helps us to communicate effectively, not just talk. I’ve done that basic Competent Communicator (CC) manual about ten times and each time I learn something new.  I consider CC projects Number Two and Three to be especially key; they contain so much that’s important. 


“I teach a course in ‘How to Write a Speech in Ten Minutes’. I tell people they must be able to encapsulate their purpose in one sentence. If you don’t have a purpose in your message it will go in one ear and out the other. The Toastmaster programme teaches you how to communicate effectively.


“The new Pathways programme, which is part of the changes within Toastmasters, gives us a way to incorporate speaking into leadership. This means the two are no longer separate – you can articulate what you’ve learned about leadership – for example you could give a speech about what you have learned about vision.


“Toastmasters has always invested in the future but you’ll have noticed that the manuals have changed only slightly over the years. With Pathways they are completely new and they fit into the modern world.  Another change has been our new computer system. It has made a huge difference all around the world. It makes things much easier for members and it has increased our membership. In 2004 we had 200,000 members in 10,000 clubs. Now, only a dozen years later, we have 360,000 members in 16,000 clubs.


“Part of building a strong organization is having strong and effective officers and continuity between them. It all comes down to the Nominating Committee at all levels – they have to come up with good candidates and tell the membership why this is a suitable person. You shouldn’t be electing anyone to the District level unless they have proven management experience. Strong candidates are important at both the District and the club level – the system is integrated.


“You’re lucky this year – District 21’s current team is working at a very high strategic level, and John and Michael are learning on their way up the sequence, watching those around them making informed decisions. This progression is important and everyone should be aware of it, so we’re marching together, all for one, one for all.


“It’s important that a District prepare leaders for the future, that’s why attending Club Officer Training is important. There and at the conferences you meet new people and hear new ideas. These events generate enthusiasm. In Kelowna I found a great turnout at the events and a hunger for Toastmasters but what the District needs is more new clubs. Now that people realize what needs to be done it might be possible to turn this corner.


“I belong to Toastmasters because I want to make the world a better place. The world would be better – don’t you think so – if we all contributed we met other positive people and we had fun. We can all share in making the world a better place Change your corner of the world and that makes the world a better place. Some people seem to stay in the background, almost invisible because they don’t believe in themselves. Toastmasters gives these people a voice so they can come forward and contribute and have fun too.


“Any change in the world depends on people. Belonging to a large organization gives us greater perspective and we find new ways and new ideas. This is true even at the club level; we meet new people and hear new ideas and this exposure gives us a bigger picture. We can see where we fit in and what we can do. If you don’t go outside your own little circle you don’t see that.


“I thought I had just joined Toastmasters, but look! I ended up International President! Where could you end up?”


Valerie Adolph DTM