Communication and Leadership in Times of Uncertainty

The current pandemic has created uncertainty and ambiguity across the globe. For leaders, it is time to rethink how we lead and influence others to stay positive and focused.  How can leaders reduce stress and anxiety, while at the same time provide a layer of support, courage, and unity?

Strong leadership, using integrative and collaborative communication is essential.  Integrative and collaborative leadership means that everyone has a place at the table, and that the input of every member of the team is respected.  This method creates synergy, which translates into profits for stakeholders.  It ensures that both teams and stakeholders are engaged, encouraged, and focused.

A leader’s communication throughout and after COVID-19 will impact the ability of the company, its staff and community leaders to perform at their highest levels.

Below are few best practices that can help leaders navigate your teams in these uncertain times:

  1. Be Honest and Consistent:

When a team member or stakeholder asks you a question, give them an honest answer. Don’t defocus or provide a vague response. Honesty creates trust and an environment for the team to feel safe.  In addition, be consistent in all your actions and communication dialogue:  consistency depicts predictability and reputation.

  1. Appreciate and acknowledge the team:

Take the time to recognize the team and acknowledge them for their efforts. Appreciate group, as well as individual efforts; most importantly, personalize your message to make each member feel valued. Periodically recognizing small acts and behaviors creates an environment of appreciation and high-performance culture

  1. Be flexible and emphatic:

In these times of crisis, your team members may lack motivation due to stress.  Leaders must communicate with empathy as well as a supportive mindset to jointly face the current situation. Your actions must exude core values and support.

  1. Create a supportive environment to encourage team health and wellness:

Emotional support involves letting your team know that they are being cared for and that they should feel comfortable discussing work and nonwork-related issues. A good leader communicates and provides a supportive environment to encourage good health and employee wellness and recognizes that some members may have families and friends who may require additional attention and care. Healthy employees will always remain happy and loyal to their leader and to their organization.


A leader’s influence can change the dynamic of a team.

Leaders can influence how people interpret and react to situations. If leaders fail to communicate, it creates an environment of mistrust, ambiguity and may lead to spread of rumors that can damage the reputation of the company and the leader.

In times of uncertainty, strong leadership through integrative and collaborative communication helps to minimize distractions, creates bonding with the staff and members, and most importantly, keeps everyone focused in a safe environment.  Your team will know that you genuinely care, and communication helps build a strong connection with them on multiple levels.


Times of uncertainty will always reveal your leadership maturity. Keeping your team engaged through constant, clear communication often conveys to them that a consistent and confident Leader is there to help them navigate through rough waters.


 About the Author:

Margarita Estrada, DTM, is an author and former panic attack sufferer turned energetic, dynamic speaker who knows how to inspire an audience and never let them go.  Known as The Well-Connected Writer©, she is a skilled storyteller and wordsmith who authored and published the bi-lingual memoir, Vignettes of a Family Journey, to create awareness about Alzheimer’s disease, and its effects on the family.  Margarita is the chair of OMNI-PRO Speakers Bureau, sponsored by District 83 Toastmasters, and is a member of Impact 21 Toastmasters in Rahway, NJ and Dining to Speak Toastmasters, in Fairfield, NJ.

Introducing Shelby L. Holliman, D83 blogger as of December 1, 2018

Toastmaster Shelby L. Holliman, member of Talk of Monmouth, (she currently serves as their VP of Membership) and Shore Speakers Toastmasters, honors District 83 by answering the call to serve as District 83 Toastmasters blogger effective Friday, December 1, 2018.  Shelby has earned her Competent Communicator and Competent Leader awards. 

Margarita Estrada, D83 Public Relations Manager, conducted an interview with Shelby.  Also present at that interview were:  Manny Reyes, DTM, District Director, Lynda Starr, DTM, Program Quality Director, and Begonia Reyes, Division I Director.

Shelby, when did you become a Toastmaster?

I became a Toastmaster on July 1, 2016.

What is your profession?  Why did you become a Toastmaster?

I am a lecturer on Public Speaking at Rutgers University.  I felt that it was important to strengthen my craft as a public speaker so that I could be the best leader, advisor, and coach on the subject matter.  My professional development is very important to me.  By constantly working and developing my craft, I can be a living example to my students.

What is your new goal?

I am always striving to improve.  This year, my goal is to challenge myself by honing my skills on the Pathways Learning experience.

What are your future goals?

My future goals are 1) to mentor a club and 2) to become part of the prison ministry at Rahway Prison, a project spearheaded by George Phillips, member of Princeton Toastmasters.

Shelby, we are looking forward to your contributions to our blog.  One last question.  What is your favorite quote?

Life is forward and understood backwards, by Soren Kierkegaard

About Toastmasters District 83:

District 83 includes 155 clubs, with close to 4,000 members, in Metropolitan New Jersey, Staten Island, and Rockland County, New York. For more information, please visit the District 83 website,

About Toastmasters International:

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 300,000 members in 16,500 clubs in 141countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit

For more information about Talk of Monmouth Toastmasters, visit:

For more information about Shore Speakers Toastmasters, visit:








Introducing Pres Vasiliev – Keynote Speaker for D83 Fall Celebration: Recognizing Success!

Pres (Presiyan) Vasiliev, 2013 World Champion of Public Speaking (WCPS),  Keynote Speaker for the District 83 Fall Celebration:  Recognizing Success! (for individual members and clubs) on Saturday, November 17th, at the APA Woodbridge Hotel, 120 South Wood Avenue, in Iselin, NJ.  (Go to to register!)

On Saturday, October 20th, 2018, Margarita Estrada, District 83 Public Relations Manager, had a conversation with Pres Vasiliev, where he shared his feelings about winning the WCPS in 2013 for his speech, Changed By a Tire, as well as his enthusiasm about his visit to District 83.   

What are your thoughts about coming to the District 83 Fall Awards and Recognition Celebration?

I look forward to meeting the members of District 83!  I can’t wait to help them become better storytellers and give them the tools they need to share their message more effectively and convey their vision more memorably. 

What does Proactive Empowerment mean to you in terms of Leadership?

I see it as a great strategy for building a better club and a better organization.  Why?  Because when you proactively help your team members – with your time, with your advice, with your encouragement – you trigger in them the desire to return the favor.  The more you help your team members, the more they will help you.  Such a team effort can achieve astonishing results.

What can we expect in your keynote address?

You will witness the defeats and triumphs, the decisions and discoveries, the mentors and helpers that shaped my journey to World Champion of Public Speaking.  You will also pick up powerful public speaking tools, tactics and techniques that you can apply right away to improve your communication and leadership skills. 

Tell us about your experience winning the World Championship of Public Speaking.  What have you learned?  What surprised you?

The biggest lesson for me was this: Believe in yourself, your story, and your message.  During my journey, there were moments of self-doubt – moments when I wondered, “Will the audience connect with me and my message?”  But the hard work and the help of fellow Toastmasters gave me the confidence I needed to succeed.  My preparation included speaking in more than 50 clubs.  What surprised me was that I learned something new from each club.  You never know where a good idea will come from, and as long as you stay open to feedback and help from others, you will gain tremendous insight.

How has Toastmasters impacted your life?

Toastmasters changed my life.  It built my confidence, sharpened my communication skills, and helped me launch my dream career as a professional speaker and executive speech coach.  Today I do what I love – speaking, teaching, and coaching give great meaning to my life.

Storytelling seems to be the ‘buzz’ word in the media.  What role does storytelling play in your presentations and why is it so important?

Stories help my audience experience my message.  If you give your audience a laundry list of lessons, chances are they won’t remember more than one or two.  But if you weave these lessons into a carefully crafted story, then your lessons will be much more memorable.  Moreover, when you use personal stories to get your message across, your audience will not only learn from you but also connect with you.

What advice do you have for fellow Toastmasters?

Always reach out to others for help and advice.  Seek feedback, take notes, and never stop asking questions.  With the help of others, you can achieve your goals and dreams.  During my journey, I found great mentors and coaches who helped me achieve my goal.  And if I can do it, so can you. 

If you were to define your life in one word, what would it be?

Persistence.  When I look back at my life, I see the willingness to keep going no matter what comes my way.  For me, the key to success is setting high goals and then persistently working towards their achievement. 

This event will truly be a celebration!  We will recognize Toastmasters 25+ years as Club Members!  These are Toastmasters who have been active in our organization for 25+ years.  In addition, we will recognize Pathways Guides and Ambassadors, as well as clubs who have attained the following as of September 30th.

  • Distinguished as of September 30th
  • Smedley Awards 
  • 20 Member Club & Club Strength
  • Friendly Neighbor
  • Traveling Gavel
  • Club Anniversaries (5-yr intervals)
  • New Clubs
  • Area & Div Directors Submission of Success Plan
  • Attendance at Summer TLI

The District 83 Toastmasters Fall Celebration:  Recognizing Success! will be held on Saturday, November 17th, at the APA Woodbridge Hotel, 120 South Wood Avenue, in Iselin, NJ.  Bring your friends!  Bring your family!  Bring your work colleagues!  You don’t want to miss it!  To register go to:!  If you have any questions, please email Co-Chair Emilia Volyand at


Club Spotlight: Impact 21

Club: Impact 21

Charter Date: March 29, 2002

2016-2017 Officers: Left to Right: Area 51 Director Oscar Ocasio, ACG, ALB, President Marjorie Nazaire, CC; VP of Education Manny Reyes, ACG, ALB, VP Membership; and Treasurer Cyndi Wilson DTM, VP PR Margarita Estrada, ACS, ALS; and Sgt. at Arms & Secretary Mario Lewis, ACG, CL



Club Members In Their Own Words:

I was painfully shy and could not even present my final graduate paper to my peers.  English as a second language also pushed me back to a dark corner.  My best friend told me about Toastmasters.  I visited Impact 21 in January 2016 and felt at home.  The club has given me my voice back and I realized that my accent should not be an handicap.  I shared my story with my fellow toastmasters and they gave me a confidence that I did not know existed in me.  Little by little I left my comfort zone, and volunteering for table topics allowed me to start and be part of any conversation. – President Marjorie Nazaire, CC

I joined Toastmasters because I wanted to be a better speaker and presenter. But I never thought I would find joy, friendship, camaraderie and passion for growth and personal development.  I started in Toastmasters by locating the Club that was closest to my house, where I have been a member for some time now. I have learned in turn that more than convenience you have to look for the Club that is the closest to your heart. Where you find that you can grow and help others in their own journey. A Club where you can see the type of leaders and speakers that you feel the closest to your own likes and needs. Where you learn and help others learn. Where every meeting is an adventure and a documentary of things that happened, things that are happening and things one hope will happen. Putting these goals and treasures together is how I ended up coming to Impact 21. – Manny Reyes, VP of Education, ACG, ALB

Continue reading “Club Spotlight: Impact 21”