D39 Toastmasters Toastimonial: Laurent Frazier

This interview is the 5th in a series spotlighting rising stars in Toastmasters District 39. Do you agree with Laurent’s perspective on how to recruit and retain younger members?

LaurentQ: Laurent, how long you have been a member of your Toastmasters club and why did you join?

A: In November of 2015, I was approached by a co-worker who thought it would enhance my communications skills and business productivity as a sales consultant. I found that first meeting to be full of intense fun, and I loved the way everyone supported each other and participated in all aspects of the meeting. I joined immediately as a charter member of Power Talkers, and have been attending ever since.

Q: How do you remember your first few meeting experiences? Why did you keep coming back?

A: I remember my first few meetings as being first and foremost a lot of fun! I had a great time at each meeting and started inviting friends and co-workers right away. I kept coming back because I noticed that as I was having fun, my communication skills kept improving. I was shaky during my Ice Breaker speech, but after all the wonderful feedback, I found myself speaking more clearly and concisely at meetings, home, and work. The things I learned at Toast Masters began to subtly work their way into my everyday speech patterns and improve my ability to express myself and share information. I found this to be very encouraging and it intensified my desire to keep attending.

Q: What are the key lessons you have learned in Toastmasters?

A: One of the key lessons I learned is the power of constructive feedback. Every speech is followed by loving and considerate evaluations. Hearing what one can improve upon can sometimes be intimidating, but the intention of Toastmasters feedback is always to help the person being evaluated, and that intention can be felt. This has also taught me to give feedback to people in other life scenarios from a place that is intended only to help them improve, rather than to be right or get them to buy into my own opinions.

Q: What are your proudest achievements in the club? And what would you like to accomplish in the future?

A: One of my proudest achievements in Toastmasters was my Icebreaker speech. I got amazing feedback and I learned from my evaluations where I could improve.  I am proud to say that I took the suggestions presented and was able to see progress by the time I participated in my first table topics speech the following week. I used to have a tough time accepting feedback, but I am happy to report that I now look forward to it.

Another one of my top successes was being voted as the inaugural club President of Power Talkers. Based upon my previous speeches and lessons learned from my Ice Breaker and Table Topics speeches, I delivered a speech from the heart when presenting myself for office. I am proud that my words were able to reach so many people’s hearts and that I have the chance to now serve our club members and aid others in the development of their leadership and communications skills.

Q: What would you recommend to other clubs looking to recruit and retain more Millennial members?

A: Ah Millennials… We can be a tough bunch to satisfy. I think that the reason our club appeals to Millennial participation is that we understand what they want. As millennials we grew up in a high tech society, but our technology has created a problem, an occasional low touch disconnect from the people around us and the physical world. It’s easy to write a letter when spell check corrects everything, but it’s more difficult to express those same thoughts in spoken words when our devices can’t do anything to assist us.

Therefore, when recruiting Millennials I focus on speaking about the accessibility Toastmasters give us, and how it turns our high tech world view into a high touch world view. I speak to potential Millennial members about how Toast Masters helps us achieve the things WE are interested in. I speak to my young co-workers about how it can help enhance their sales by making it easier to communicate products to customers. I tell my friends it can enhance our ability to speak to that guy or girl that we may be too shy to ask out on a date; how it can help us negotiate a raise at work; or negotiate a higher salary when applying for a new job.

As Millennials we tend to gravitate towards things that give us a greater ability to get the things we want in life. I also highlight how FUN it is! Keeping our club consistently fun helps us maintain our Millennial membership base. And once Millennials are engaged in something we find both fun and useful, we are more than eager to share it with our friends and family.

Q: What key advice do you have for other younger members to get the most out of Toastmasters? What mistakes should they avoid?

A: I would advise younger members to create goals for themselves, and that they view Toast Masters as a way to bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be. I also recommend that they attend with a friend. Having someone you know there makes things more fun, and you can witness and support each other’s progress better since you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Regarding potential pitfalls to avoid, I think a common problem can be a fear of commitment and a tendency to stop coming to meetings. I completely understand that life gets busy, especially for younger people who are learning how to navigate adult hood. Just remember that when you feel the inclination to skip out on a meeting, you are developing skills that will open gateways to the things you want in life. Toastmasters will help you become the best version of yourself you can be, and you will discover and create a track record of all the amazing things you are capable of doing. Attending Toast Masters is about self-love, as much as it is about personal development and service to others. You deserve the best, so become your best.

Contact Laurent

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: