Monday, April 15, 2013

High Performance Leadership (HPL) Project - FAQ

High Performance Leadership (HPL) is a five-projects program which provides instruction and practice in
key leadership skills/activities such as developing a mission/vision, setting goals, planning, identifying values and building a team. HPL project has to be done systematically using the steps outlined in the manual and with the help of a guidance committee. That will maximize your learning opportunity and will help groom your leadership skills. You need to run a HPL by involving a team (say, 10+ members) and for a longer period (say, 3 - 6 months). I keep receiving several queries on this subject. I'll use this blog post to keep track of the queries that I receive from fellow toastmasters and my thoughts/answers for such questions.

Also read: High Performance Leadership (HPL) - Ideas / Requirements

What are some HPL projects that we can do? Who can get HPL credit for such projects? This is a question asked by a number of new toastmasters. Here are some guidelines:
  • Running a conference (Conference Chariman & Co-Chairman can get the HPL credit)
  • Organizing a Youth Leadership Program (Chief Co-ordinator will get the credit)
  • Organizing a Speech Craft Program (Chief Co-ordinator will get the credit)
  • Planning & organizing a major training program attended by 250+ people (Chief Co-ordinator will get the credit)
  • Students can organize a major event involving other departments/groups/colleges (Chief Organizer will get the credit)
  • A project at workplace that involves a large team (You'll get the credit when you play the role of a Project Manager)
  • Activities done by an Area / Division Governor during his/her term (Area / Division Governor will get the credit)
  • A project in local community/church etc., involving a large team (Chief Organizer will get the credit)
  • Building a club from scratch with the help of a team and with focused marketing/demo activities (The person who champions the new club will get the credit)
Also read: How to organize Youth Leadership Program (YLP)? 

Here are a set of questions asked by a fellow toastmaster and the answers that I provided.

1. Our VP-PR organized the club's 2nd anniversary celebration in Hotel Regency. It was really a grand celebration. The event budget was nearly Rs. 65K. Can HPL award be given to the VP PR for this ?

[Saro] No. I don't think this is a large enough project for HPL.

2. 6 of us will be planning to conduct 2 credit educational programme for 150 students. As coordinators for this entire program, can a team of 6 people be given HPL credits because they will be handling 25 students each for 90 hours.

[Saro] This is similar to a Speech Craft or YLP program. HPL credit can be given for the Chief Co-ordinator who is organizing the program, by involving the various volunteers.

3. We organize an out bound training every year where over 100 toastmasters go for a 2 day trip (as a certified course). A team of 2 people organize this.  Can this be considered as an HPL project ?

[Saro] No. I don't think this is a large enough project for HPL.

4. If we file a HPL award for a toastmaster now - will the award/credit be given immediately or it will be credited only when the toastmaster completes his/her ALS?

[Saro] You can file it separately and need not wait until the toastmaster completes the ALS. Toastmasters International will immediately honor the toastmaster with the "Leadership Excellence" award. It gets accounted automatically at the time of ALS.

Disclaimer: The answers given here are just my personal opinion. Please write to Toastmasters International ( to get the right answer.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

An Interview done by Medley Toastmasters Club, Chennai

This is an interview done by the editors of Medley toastmasters club, Chennai for their club newsletter.

1. When and why did you join Toastmasters?

I joined toastmasters to improve my public speaking skills. I had the difficulty of thinking in Tamil, translating that to English and conveying my thoughts.

I joined Toastmasters in September 2006.

2. Since joining Toastmasters, how have you grown as a communicator and leader?

Yes… Very much. Though I joined toastmasters to develop my communication skills, I realized that I had a fantastic opportunity to groom my leadership skills also.
Today, I can think in English right at the first time (as opposed to thinking in Tamil, and translating that to English). I attribute the success of my professional growth also to Toastmasters. Hadn’t I been a master communicator, I wouldn’t have grown so fast in the IT ladder.

3. What have you done in Toastmasters to gain leadership experience?

I started by leadership journey by volunteering to serve as the Sergeant at Arms in my club. I have played SAA role for 3 terms in my club. I have taken a variety of roles in Toastmasters, which helped me to groom my leadership skills.
·         Served the club by playing the role of SAA (3 times), VP M, VP Ed (2 times) and President.
·         Actively participated in club meetings and played all the meeting roles at the club level.
·         Helped in running the contests (played all the roles – Contest chair, Contest master, Timer, Tally Counter, SAA, Chief Judge, Judge, buying trophies, designing/printing certificates, and even, getting venue, serving snacks and arranging chairs/tables)
·         Participated in Youth Leadership Programs, Demo meetings, OTPs, Contests and Conferences
      Mentoring clubs and members (I’m proud to say that I’ve 50+ meentees all around Tamilnadu)
·         Served as Asst. Area Governor (2010 – 2011) and Division Governor (2011 – 2012)
Toastmasters provides a fantastic opportunity to practice your communication and leadership skills. For somebody who wants to improve, sky is the limit. I’ve always seen “work coming my way” in toastmasters as “opportunity to practice and learn”.

4. What does DTM mean to you?

DTM is just a title. The experience that you go through when achieving DTM makes the actual difference. The urge to constantly practice and improve will actually make you the REAL DTM.

5. How has the Toastmasters experience helped you in your career or daily life?

Yes. I always consider the time that I spend for toastmasters as an investment on my self-development. I’ve become more organized, and developed a number of good habits because of my toastmasters experience:
  • Getting up early in the morning
  • Reading news papers
  • Reading one book a month
  • Blogging
  • Listening to motivational and self-development podcasts / audios

All these habits, made a HUGE DIFFERENCE in my personal and professional life. Today, I’m a Director-Technology in a MNC because of the confidence/experience that I gained from Toastmasters.

6. Now having achieved DTM, what is your next step in Toastmasters?

I would like to continue to serve members and clubs in whatever way possible.

7. What surprised you the most about Toastmasters?

Toastmasters is a well maintained secret. That surprised me the most. I got to know about toastmasters only 7 years ago. I wish I had known about Toastmasters earlier. It would have helped me accelerate my career, even further.

8. If someone asked you to give a presentation on short notice, how would you react?

I’ll tell them “I’m game” J Toastmasters has equipped me well to make “impromptu presentations or speeches”.

However, I always value my audience time and I normally request for time to prepare before I make a presentation. I feel that even a champion speaker should prepare before making a presentation for a lasting impact on the audience.

9. What is the thing that you like the best about your club?

My club officers and members are super creative and they constantly experiment new ideas. I like the enthusiasm of my club.

10. What would be one advice you would like to give new Toastmasters?

Follow 3Rs in order to be successful in toastmasters.
1.    Participate in meetings and take roles Regularly,
2.    Rehearse well before any performance
3.    Continuously Research for ways of doing it better (You can research by reading books, listening to speeches from champions, attending workshops, participating in contests, attending other club meetings etc.,)

11. One leader who has inspired you the most and why?

I continue to admire Gandhi the most. In fact, the book “My experiments with Truth” brought a sea change in my life. Nobody gave him the authority to fight for freedom… nobody asked him to lead the freedom movement… and he wasn’t born in the family of “kings”. However, he emerged as a strong leader by serving people. He is a true example of “servant leadership”. No wonder why he is admired by the entire world. I wish we have more Gandhi’s in this world.

12. What is the most important thing you would tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?

I don’t tell anything about Toastmasters to my friends or family… because they have witnessed the transformation that I went through in 7 years. They know that Toastmasters make an everlasting positive transformation in people.