Local coach and trainer Margaret Page has a busy year coming up.
As of July 1, Page became the District 21 governor of Toastmasters International. Her territory covers the entire province of B.C. and includes 285 clubs and almost 5,000 members.
After less than two weeks on the job Page sums up the job as “lots of work, but fun.” She laughed that while she’s the grand puba, no one is reticent to advise her on any lapses in protocol. And that is where the value of Toastmasters lies for Page and many others — the prompt and succinct evaluation of speaking and leadership skills.
Page joined the Morningstars Toast-masters Club in Gibsons shortly after she moved here in 2003.
“I had heard about Toastmasters for a number of years and had wanted to partake in the program for a number of years and having just moved to the Sunshine Coast, I thought it would be a good way to meet people,” she recalled.
After a few weeks, Page decided Toastmasters was just what she needed to help her develop critical thinking skills and a pattern for success that would be useful in her coaching business.
No stranger to small and medium business, Page had operated nine businesses in both Canada and the United States since she was a young adult. Before coming to the Coast, she had a chain of hairdressing shops in Las Vegas.
“I often say I moved from the desert to the rain forest. My sister called me after 9/11 and jokingly said, ‘I’ll meet you at the border with the car running.’ At the time, it was difficult to sell any kind of property or businesses, so it took a while for me to do so,” she explained.
After she returned to Canada, Page put all her belongings in storage and went on a road trip across B.C. looking for a place to call home. When she reached Gibsons, she found her lodestar.
“It was just so beautiful and peaceful yet close to a major centre where I could immerse myself in other things that were important to me,” she said.
After several years in Toastmasters where Page did find the all-important fellowship with fellow club members as well as the leadership and speaking skills she required, more opportunities in the organization beckoned.
After several executive positions within the Gibsons club and later Sunshine Toastmasters, the club that meets in Sechelt, Page was recruited to serve at the district level.
“Once I started up the ladder I was asked to be the second in command in the province — district education officer — by several people I truly admired. I took a serious look at that and decided it would be the best use of my volunteer time, given that Toastmasters changes people’s lives. It gives them the tools to grow and I’m totally in awe of watching people grow like that,” she related.
Her objective is to help pave the road to give individual members what they need to accomplish their own dreams. It’s a toss-up, she said, whether members get confidence from their new speaking skills or their newly acquired leadership skills. Either way, she believes it can and does change people’s lives as it has her own.
At one time, in spite of being a successful businessperson, Page found speaking in public a frightening experience.
“Since I began my path [at Toastmasters] to becoming a better communicator, I’ve become a better listener, critical thinker and speaker. All are very valuable skills in my career,” she stated.
Other advantages Page feels Toast-masters gives members are the abilities to run meetings on time and on point, create effective agendas and understand Robert’s Rules of Order. She feels that anyone in a leadership role in any non-profit or business could benefit from the program and support of like-minded people.
And although she’s very busy with her new role, she stills finds time to attend Sunshine Toastmasters and the newest club on the Coast, Beachcombers Advanced Toastmasters.
“I couldn’t imagine life without my Toastmaster friends,” she said.
If you’re over 18 and interested in developing your speaking and leadership skills with a community of supportive people, check out the three clubs on the Coast. For Gibsons’ summer schedule call 604-740-8226 (meetings Wednesdays at 7 a.m. at Harmony Hall), Sechelt club meets Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at the Sechelt Seniors Centre, and Beachcombers Advanced Club meets the third Friday of each month at 6 p.m. For meeting place and details contact Dawn Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.