Dublin South Toastmasters: “Toastmaster of the Year 2020/21”
At the end of another year Dublin South Toastmasters we reflect on a very special year for Colette Ainscough. She has been a true trailblazer since joining here from another club in February 2020 and has firmly established with such nicknames as the “Emoji Queen”. Winning the Club Tall Tales, Humorous, and International Speech Contests, going on to represent the club at Area and Division Levels this year, it has been a stellar year for her.
But one of the more important things has been her attitude in these strange times. Always enthusiastic and guaranteed to put a smile on your face, she has been a true source of light during these times. I am always guaranteed a laugh or a smile when I see Colette on the screen, and personally cannot wait to see what she can bring to the club in a face to face setting at some point when we all return.
We caught up with Colette to reflect on her magnificent year and splendid achievement.
1. So, Dublin South Toastmasters “Toastmaster of the Year 2020/21”, how does it feel?
It is an absolute honour to have been chosen as ‘Toastmaster of the Year 2020/21 at Dublin South Toastmasters, I feel very humbled by it given that there are an amazing group of members at the Club.
2. Do you have a particular favourite moment over the last year at Toastmasters?
I cannot say that I have one particular ‘stand out moment’. Stuart Parkinson (Evaluation Contestant) and I got tremendous support getting to Division Level. Dublin South rallied round organising practice Zoom sessions also the amount of Club Members who supported us at the actual competitions through to Division Level was incredible.
3. You are the defending champion in the Tall Tales, Humorous Speech and International Speech Contests, getting to Division Level in the International Speech Contest. What goes through your mind when preparing for a contest, and what advice would you give?
I am not going to lie, it was absolutely nerve wracking to be competing at Division Level. I had practiced until I was ‘blue in the face’, had everything off to a tee, yet still managed to forget a couple of lines! My advice to anyone competing in speech competitions is to develop your speech topic around some personal anecdotes and more importantly have fun with it.
4. You’ve been with Toastmasters for a while, leaving your previous club before joining Dublin South just before our Zoom meetings started. What message do you want to send out to potential joiners?
Potential joiners whether it is for career prospects or undertaking a hobby… if you want to gain confidence in your speaking, learn how to communicate effectively, develop skills as a leader, if you are willing to self-direct your learning, want to have fun and meet interesting like-minded people then… go no further than Dublin South, Leopardstown! Do it believe me you will not regret it”.
5. How have you found the online format? What benefits and drawbacks have you found with it?
The online meeting format works very well. Dublin South accommodate a packed Toastmasters agenda at every Zoom meeting with high numbers of attendees. The benefits of online meetings? Number one has to be ‘peace of mind’ for Club Members regarding staying safe, there are monetary savings to be made regarding membership fees, the whole idea of developing tech skills, the way that everyone can see/hear/talk to each other in ‘gallery’ mode and the ability to visit TM clubs from around the world.
Main drawbacks in terms of the online format for me? When a person delivers a speech at an in-house meeting a myriad of thoughts and feelings can transpire. It takes guts to go to the top of a room to speak in front of people. When you do carry out a speech project there is nothing like the sense of achievement having spoken publicly and hearing an audiences applause of appreciation. I believe that the network break is an important time for peer to peer support, this is unfortunately lost with an online format.
6. What would your advice be for someone wanting to develop their leadership skills through Toastmasters?
I believe it would depend on the club members experience of leading to date. Newer club members can begin to develop leadership skills by carrying out eg. the Toastmaster of the Day role. I would advise more experienced club members who wanted to develop their leadership skills through Toastmasters to consider jumping up the Pathway Levels. It is possible to work on Levels 3 or 4 over Levels 1 and 2!
A member can consider joining the clubs committee. If a member is really keen on developing leadership skills and committee places have been taken I think it might be an idea to buddy up with a committee member to learn a particular role. On from that, throughout the TM year there are opportunities in the form of mentoring and directorships that increase leadership skills.
7. What are your goals for this coming year, both as a speaker and a new member of the committee?
My goals are already set in stone, I want to complete up to Level 4 of Innovative Planning and am currently busy working on my next speech project for the club beginning September 2021. As Sergeant at Arms/Logistics Manager my goal is to be a committee member who operates drawing upon the Toastmasters International core values of Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence…these very values are how I roll in life.