Dorothy Miller has gone her entire life hearing about Toastmasters, an international speaking and leadership club, but had never felt the desire to join such a group until recently.
Her childhood best friend’s father, Bob McKinnon, was a member, and he constantly spoke about it, she recalled.
“I became an adult, got married, had kids, and he was still talking about Toastmasters,” Miller said.
“And whenever we got together, we had really meaningful conversations. I couldn’t help but wonder, ‘Gosh, I mean he’s a dynamic person anyway, but what part did Toastmasters play in him being able to converse so fluently, and engage people at a deeper level?’”
McKinnon passed away in June, 2013, and while Miller was at his eulogy, it hit her.
“I sat there and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, Toastmasters has been such a big part of his life, I have to stop thinking about this and I have to do it.’”
That September, Miller inquired about the Langley 2743 club “and the rest is history as they say, because I just knew that this was where I was supposed to be,” she said.
Since joining just over three years ago, Miller has transformed her life from being a stay-at-home mom of five, to becoming a business owner, author, speaker, coach and president of the Langley 2743 club.
“As my last child was entering high school, I knew that I needed to be looking at what is next for me,” she said.
“So when I joined (Toastmasters) I knew that I already had my purpose in life set for me, and that was really to inspire and to influence people to do greatness.”
Miller says being part of an organization like Toastmasters, which has thousands of clubs around the world, has opened many new doors for her.
It has led her to work with Bob Proctor, a personal growth coach out of Toronto, and to write her book, What’s Next With Your Life? A Woman’s Guide to Rediscovering Yourself With New Purpose, to help women transitioning out of parenthood.
Now as president of the Langley club, Miller is hoping to pass that inspiration on to others.
It begins with each member’s very first meeting, where Miller strives to make them “feel like this is where they belong.”
“We are fun and we realize that you can laugh at yourself,” she said.
“This is a safe environment to fail. We need to fail to grow.”
The club meets every Tuesday evening at the Timms Community Centre in Langley City.
Generally, a meeting will begin with prepared speeches, followed by a feedback session. The second half, called “table topics,” teaches impromptu speaking, and how to answer questions on the spot.
This year members are also preparing for the International Toastmaster convention in August, which is coming to Vancouver for the first time since 1976.
“This is not just about speaking, it’s about learning new skills,” Miller said.
“I believe the most measurable thing that has happened is that I have become a more effective leader. And that has become an overused phrase, so what I mean by that, is that I have learned to listen to people and to give them the feedback they need to gain the confidence to do what it is they want to do. Because most of the time, people nod and agree and then don’t help you take that next step.”
For those interested in learning more about Toastmasters, the 2743 club is hosting their second annual open house on Tuesday, Feb. 7 from 7 to 9 p.m.
The event takes place at the Timms Community Centre, and features four “all star” speeches by members at various stages of the Toastmasters program. There will then be a social period to answer questions, followed by a presentation by keynote speaker Margaret Page, the International Director for Toastmasters.
For more information, visit the Langley 2743 website: http://easy-speak.org/portal.php?page=7020.