Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 28th 2013 Contents Bavina Sookdeo
"Find your passion, and
persistently pursue it."
These were the words of advice that
Florence Ruth De Silva gave to young
people during her interview with Wom-
If you're wondering who this affable
woman is, the 31-year-old recently be-
came the Division F Governor (District
81) of Toastmasters International, a
non-profit educational organisation that
teaches public speaking and leadership
skills through a worldwide network of
meeting locations. Headquartered in
Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the
organisation has more than 280,000
memberships in 13,500 clubs in 116
countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters In-
ternational has helped people of all
backgrounds become more confident in
front of an audience.
So what does this mean for De Silva
who can only be described as 'chirpy'?
Well, the young Information Manage-
ment Professional (within the energy
sector for the last eight years) is now
responsible for 20 clubs across five
areas and three countries - Trinidad and
Tobago, Grenada and Guyana.
How does the brilliant De Silva feel
now that she is Governor? How does it
feel to be the Division F Governor?
Posed with this question, she replied, "It
is an exciting yet humbling experience
to have been given the vote of confi-
dence by my Toastmasters peers across
the Caribbean to serve as the inaugural
Division F Governor. I'm thrilled at the
opportunity to set the tone for this new
role, and look forward to working with
my team to make this Toastmasters
term one to remember."
When asked what sparked her inter-
est to join the organisation at the early
age of 21, no less, she said with a smile,
"I decided to join Toastmasters early on
in my working career, as the organisa-
tion provided me with the opportunity
to hone leadership skills which would be
relevant to any career path I chose. I've
been attending meetings since I was a
student at St. George's College (age 13),
because the only local Toastmasters
Club at the time met in my school's hall,
and my father, Robert, was also a mem-
ber. I was impressed by the diction of
then principal Hyacinth Bonair-Agard, as
she chaired our school's assembly meet-
ings, and seeing her in action at a Toast-
masters meeting inspired me to
continue attending. Then there's the
fact that my father kept repeating every
chance he got, 'It's a decision you won't
regret' (*infectious laugh here)... I must
agree that ten years later I have not re-
In the past, De Silva, known for her
uproarious laughter, has held positions
such as Area Governor, Club VP Mem-
bership, Club President, Club VP PR,
Club VP Education and Club Secretary.
During her last Toastmasters term
when she served as Area 12 Governor,
De Silva was responsible for five clubs,
two of which were charted during the
term. The Area was also President's Dis-
tinguished, the highest award to be
earned by an Area. During her tenure as
Club President at Dynamic Speakers
(Club 6435) July 2010 to June 2011, the
club achieved nine of its 10 strategic
goals for the year again earning the
highest award that can bestowed on a
club -- President's Distinguished status.
Being Florence De Silva is surely no
easy task. How does she carry out her
day job, carry out her role as Governor,
run her business Synergistic Coaching,
find time for friends, family and herself?
She must be some sort of super-
The outgoing woman simply said,
"Time management and commitment.
Wearing many hats requires me to plan
my weeks well in advance so that I can
successfully meet all my commitments.
However, because I enjoy what I do in all
areas of my life, it doesn't feel burden-
While she is now Governor, De Silva
has not forgotten her origns at all, and
looks back fondly at all that Toastmas-
ters did for her. The Santa Cruz resident
said, "Being a Toastmaster has im-
pacted my life in many ways, the most
critical being my increased self-confi-
dence as a communicator and leader. I
remember during the delivery of my Ice-
breaker speech (the first speech you de-
liver at Toastmasters) being nervous to
the point of going blank for about 15
seconds. Now, 10 years later, I can confi-
dently facilitate workshops for 50 to 60
persons," she laughed.
As a leader, De Silva insists that she
has gained courage with every leader-
ship role she has taken on.
"Through serving in various leadership
roles on the club executive, as Area Gov-
ernor last year, and now Division Gover-
nor, I definitely feel empowered to be
the author of my destiny. I'm now har-
nessing the skills gained in my Toast-
masters career, and focusing on what I
would term the purest and most re-
warding form of leadership, entrepre-
neurship. Through my business,
Synergistic Coaching, I would help other
successful people adapt, communicate
and become someone others would
want to follow."
De Silva has definitely made a name
for herself at Toastmasters. Her Current
Toastmaster education designation is
ACS - Advanced Communicator Silver
and ALB - Advanced Leader Bronze. On
July 6th this year, she completed all the
speeches and leadership projects re-
quired to earn the Distinguished Toast-
master award, which will be awarded
during the month of August, her 10th
Anniversary as a Toastmaster.
The vivacious De Silva encourages
everyone to get involved in Toastmas-
ters. How can you become a member?
You can visit www.toastmasters.org
and find a club closest to your neigh-
bourhood or visit the club meeting as a
guest, and at that meeting the club's
Vice President Membership would be
happy to help you complete the applica-
tion form and explain the next steps.
As for the cost to join such an es-
teemed organization, De Silva disclosed,
"Though dues across clubs may vary,
there is a standard one-time new mem-
ber application fee of US $20 which one
will pay along with club dues. However,
rest assured that Toastmasters is the
best value for your dollar, as member-
ship in any local Toastmasters club is
less than TT $5 a day."
To find out more about Toastmasters and
Florence De Silva, visit her facebook page
or her website: www.florencedesilva.com.
July 28, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Florence De Silva.
Here are 10 proven tips from Toastmasters International
on how to control your butterflies and give better presentations:
1. Know your material. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more about it than you include in your speech. Use humor, personal stories and conversational lan-
guage -- that way you won't easily forget what to say.
2. Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary. Work to control filler words; practice, pause and breathe.
Practice with a timer and allow time for the unexpected.
3. Know that audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It's easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.
4. Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
5. Relax. Begin by addressing the audience. It buys you time and calms your nerves. Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything. ("One one-thousand, two
one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.) Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
6. Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping -- it will boost your confidence.
7. Realise that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They're rooting for you.
8. Don't apologise for any nervousness or problem -- the audience probably never noticed it.
9. Concentrate on the message -- not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.
10.Gain experience. Mainly, your speech should represent you -- as an authority and as a person. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. A
Toastmasters club can provide the experience you need in a safe and friendly environment.
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