A Toastmaster’s Learning Experience from teaching Youth Leadership

Youth leadership Program (YLP)  helps students to learn public speaking and develop leadership skills. Also, it teaches them the ability to analyze their strengths and weaknesses.

We usually draw leadership lessons from other leaders at work or teachers, parents, community, and many others. Observing the young participants during the YLP sessions helped me remind myself of the importance of leadership skills and the need to continually apply them to inspire, educate, and transform others.

#1: Importance of Smiling and Having fun

Children are so care-free and have fun. They keep smiling through the entire session 😊.
Moreover, all of them want to be the “Joke master” as they have tons of jokes to share. The laughter and smiles set the mood as well as creates a very positive and supportive environment.

 #2: Be Curious and Ask questions

Children do not have preconceived notions or judgments. They are full of curiosity and ask questions. They want to understand the “Why” and pose logical questions. Natural curiosity leading to questions is a crucial leadership skill for success.

#3: Resilience makes you strong 

I have seen many currents, and past students overcome so much adversity, be it in a challenging home situation or coping up with studies. However, they still rise. Children with greater resilience are better able to manage stress. They always have a positive attitude and maintain a hopeful outlook.

#4: Be Creative and Think outside the box

Children think so creatively and come up with a solution, which is simply amazing. For example, the table topics suggested by them were so unique, and in one of our YLP sessions, the students came up with a fiction story at the end of the impromptu speaking section of the meeting. I felt so privileged to learn and grow from their ideas.

Teaching children is such a fulfilling and rewarding experience. Besides, providing leadership training prepares youth with positive life skills that they will carry into adulthood.

Nelson Mandela said it very well  “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.”

About the Author:

Somesh Chablani is a member of the OMNI-PRO Speakers Bureau, sponsored by District 83 Toastmasters. He loves to mentor students and members on public speaking. Somesh works for one of the leading Fortune 500 Tech company and leads a global team. Outside of work, Somesh likes to spend time with his family, practices laughter yoga and conducts Youth Leadership Programs.

Somesh Chablani, DTM
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/someshchablani

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, http://www.tm83.org.

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 http://www.toastmasters.org.

For more information about Talk of Monmouth Toastmasters, visit:  https://4843227.toastmastersclubs.org/

For more information about Shore Speakers Toastmasters, visit: https://shorespeakers.toastmastersclubs.org/