Iman Fiqrie, Lecturer, Malaysia Maritime Academy
Toastmasters International builds character, communicators and leaders
I often ask newsletter readers what can be done to help further MET, myself I really believe one such solution are organizations like Toastmasters International (TM), an outstanding example of the kind of character building program that can help further organizations in MET! Toastmasters (members) ultimately become competent communicators and leaders, figure 1 refers. This is precisely the reason Malaysian Maritime Academy (MMA) decided to require active cadet participation in TM. A number of staff are also involved as coaches and mentors, including myself (Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB), Competent Leader (CL)); Chief Engineer and lecturer Mr. Tham (Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM)); Senior Lecturer, Captain Siva (Advanced Communicator Silver (ACS); and the person responsible for bringing TM to MMA, Senior Lecturer, Captain Khalid Hashmi (ACS, CL).
Toastmasters International Club No. 1 in 1924
The founder of the original TM in the U.S., was Ralph C. Smedley, and according to TM International (TMI), the first unofficial TM meeting was held in 1905, Mr. Smedley had organized a series of speaking meetings and clubs while he was working at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Bloomington, Illinois, United States. The first official meeting of Club No. 1 was held in 1924 nearly twenty years later and incorporated in 1932. Today, TMI is as strong as ever and still challenging participants in communication and leadership; the first few challenges for beginners starts with several 5-7 minutes speeches such as the Ice Breaker and works through the rest of the series of 10 projects (speeches) that include such topics as Speak with Sincerity, Apply your Skills, Persuade with Power and Inspire Your Audience; done concurrently, the leadership track also consists of 10 projects that include Listening, Critical Thinking, Time Management, Mentoring and Team Building. TM values include Integrity, Respect, Service and Excellence; for more information about TMI, get the full Electronic Media Kit at https://www.toastmasters.org/About/Media-center
An example of what Toastmasters International can do for cadets
An example of what TM can do for cadets and the institution came about while I was facilitating Senior Cadets in a Modular Advanced Firefighting (MAFF) course and group case study session (figure 2. refers)– two of the students in the class were former TM; One in particular was from Mainland China, we’ll call him “Xi”. I remember when Xi first arrived at MMA as a Junior Cadet and could barely speak any intelligible English at all, let alone stand before a TM crowd and deliver a coherent speech topic, so frail, quiet and unassuming. Here he was now standing before me a few years later in a good size group in the MAFF as a senior giving a very respectful presentation about a fire onboard a cargo ship; I felt very proud of him and told him so, that he had done an excellent job on the presentation and had made excellent progress since his early days as a TM and junior. He thanked me and again I was reminded of why I share and participate in TM; you get more than you give!
Figure 2. Senior Cadets in a case study group during Modular Advanced Fire Fighting (MAFF)
The M-A-G-I-C of Toastmasters International K.I.S.S.
Again, when he first came to the academy Xi was very shy, timid, English very broken and unintelligible. XI put in the hard work himself and I would say only needed coaching, mentoring and guidance to put all the pieces together. MET needs more of this kind direct, personal and group coaching to help make positive differences and outcomes with reference to the tough and higher objectives aspired by the IMO in safety, security, energy efficiency and cleaner oceans; leadership by example and of a positive nature in lieu of many exhibited in the past 15 years –most recent and notable, MV SEWOL.
I recently had the distinct pleasure of meeting Malaysia’s Ralph Smedley, accredited speaker Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) Gerald Green, at a MMA TM function and installation of about five more clubs at MMA. As always, when a DTM takes the stage you’re in for a real treat and DTM Mr. Green was no exception. He spoke of something he called “M-A-G-I-C,” which is also in title of his book “the magic of Public Speaking”; M- myth. There’s no such thing as a born speaker; A- audience. Never underestimate your audience, speak in terms of your audience and what you’re good at; G-genuine. Be sincere; I- you have an obligation to be interesting, talk in terms of pictures and use humor; C-concise. Be clear, K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple Stupid), speak less and say more.
Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest achievment
As a native English speaker and retired U.S., Navy Officer, I first joined TM assuming that I didn’t need the help– remember DTM Green’s MAGIC? I thought there was not much I could really get out TM but instead I could, however, contribute by letting the academy’s TM hear an English speaker. Boy was I ever wrong! Unbenounced to me, I would learn and achieve many helpful communication, speaker tips and leadership competencies during my participation in TM; achieve ACB, CL, a number of awards and accolades. The most rich and memorable of which is the active participation in something worthwhile, fulfilling and profound. The highest achievement for a TM as far as competency is the coveted DTM. Although as a DTM– leadership and mentoring roles never cease as one will see DTM ambassadors everywhere engaging and showing that TM character as only they can. You’re usually in for a real treat if there’s DTM speaking, go see yourself.
Building character, integrity and mutual respect for one another
In conclusion, many cadet rank holders both past and present have been TM, not only does the individual benefit from active participation in TM by helping to build character, integrity, respect for one another, instilling a sense of service and excellence, but the institution gains as well by the cadets active participation and interaction throughout the institution. By representing the institution and its values outside, they are ambassadors that help bring change and spread the corporate brand.
Butt, N., Pike, K., Pryce-Roberts, N., Vigar, N., 2013. ‘15 years of shipping accidents: a review for WWF’. Available from