Never Stop Learning at Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI)

The motto for District 29 Toastmasters for 2018-2019 is “Never Stop Learning.” In keeping with the spirit of this motto, this past summer and this winter, club officers and members have been joining with Toastmasters across the globe in congregating for Toastmasters Leadership Institute (TLI) training. For longtime club officers, attending TLI may seem like another item to check off a list. However, there are clear benefits to attending TLI in District 29.

For starters, after checking in at the registration desk, you get breakfast or dinner, with only a donation requested to cover the food. We’re a non-profit organization, so no made-to-order omelettes or filet mignon, but expect some of the best that your local wholesale club bakery has to offer. There will definitely be caffeinated beverages, but early-comers need to give the coffee some time to steep. Of course, as many frequent TLI attendees already know, the food isn’t the star of mealtime, but rather it’s the opportunity to catch up with friends and make new Toastmasters friends.

Next, in the opening session, sometimes referred to as the plenary, you’ll learn the scoop on the fun and exciting things happening in District 29. Also, you’ll often hear an uplifting speech or chat about how to make your clubs even stronger.

Following the plenary, are the electives sessions. Pathways 101 and Pathways for Base Camp Managers have been common at the TLIs and are very helpful for making the transition from the legacy education program to the Pathways Learning experience, which is Toastmasters’ new education and leadership program. If you’re in a similar place to me, you are excited about Pathways, but still in need of refreshers to be fully prepared for the transition, the Pathways electives are perfect.

Other electives offered at various TLIs in District 29 provide learning opportunities in areas such club websites, speech contests,  productive meetings, public speaking fundamentals, leadership, and achievement in volunteerism. The instructors are enthusiastic in these topic areas and are often subject-matter-experts in the applicable area. For longtime club officers or anyone who wants to provide their input, District 29 is open to suggestions regarding new electives and constantly changing the lineups of electives.

It wouldn’t be a TLI without core officer training sessions. Therefore, before any District 29 TLI ends, we have core officer training for all club officers. Similar to the electives, the volunteer core instructors are extremely experienced in the club officer area that they are teaching, especially since they are performing similar functions at the District 29 level, in addition to current or past experiences in those offices at the club level. These volunteers are among the best to learn about your club officer role and responsibilities.

In addition to learning from the core session leaders, there are often opportunities during the sessions to meet other club officers and share ideas and strategies that have worked well in one another’s club. While many attendees attend the core session that corresponds with their officer role this year, feel free to try any core session. The winter training can be a great time to consider going to the training for the leadership position you wish to pursue next year. 

In addition to the volunteers who run the registration desk and set up the food and beverage stations, the instructors truly are the unsung heroes of the TLIs. There’s no fame and fortune for our instructors, and in many cases they expend hours of their own time and energy to prepare for their sessions, but no one will hear them mention this. These volunteers bring their talents and efforts to the TLIs out of a selfless desire to improve our club leaders, and in turn make District 29 even stronger. If you haven’t already been doing so, please thank your TLI instructors for the investment that they’re making in you and your fellow Toastmasters.

It has been a pleasure having a hand in this year’s TLIs. As mentioned, this year’s District 29 Toastmasters is “Never Stop Learning,” and I think I’m close to learning all the ins-and-outs of planning and handling the in-the-moment logistics of a TLI. Of course, I’m still guilty of oversights, such as forgetting the sign-in sheet for one of the TLIs; however, like always, my fellow Toastmasters stepped in and ensured the registration desk ran smoothly. For that and many other things, I’m incredibly thankful.

Click here to sign up for one of the remaining TLI trainings taking place this winter!

About the Author:

Matt Mertz, CC is the District 29 Toastmasters TLI Dean, 2018-2019. He is behind the scenes scheduling, coordinating, and organizing all the TLI instructors, venues, and other details so that TLI trainings are well-executed and the members have a quality education program that helps them improve club success.

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