Lydia Lee, DTM

Lydia Lee has been with Toastmasters for 5 years. Like many of us, she joined Toastmasters to help improve her communication skills as she is an engineer required to give many technical presentations at work. Lydia was recognized as the 2016-2017 Area Director of the Year for going above and beyond to help out at the district and individual level.  Through her story, Lydia shares with us her journey with Toastmasters.

1) Tell us about yourself and how you came to join Toastmasters.

I grew up in Hong Kong, where I learned English during my school years. Though English is not my first language, I have no problems communicating with others on a one-on-one basis.  However at work, I need to give pre-sales presentations, demos and trainings to groups.  I noticed my demos were not effective and audience members fell asleep during my training classes.  That’s when I knew I needed to improve my communication skills.  One of my coworkers, Koshi Matsushita, a Toastmaster, encouraged me to try Toastmasters out, so I joined in February, 2013, after a Toasters R Us Open House event.

2) How long have you been with your club?

I have two clubs – Toasters R Us, which I joined in February, 2013,  and Next Step Toastmasters, which I joined in November, 2015.

3) What have you found challenging yet rewarding as part of your journey with Toastmasters?

I learned a lot during my journey with Toastmasters:

  • Planning – Toastmasters is a self-paced program. You need to create a plan/schedule to work towards your goal (no matter what you decide to do).  For instance, if you want to finish your Competent Communicator in one year, then you need to make a goal to deliver a speech once a month.
  • How to write a good technical presentation – As an engineer, I need to create lots of technical presentations, but those presentations were kind of boring.I am now applying Toastmasters techniques to my presentations – a good intro; three main points; transitions in between and a conclusion with a “call-to-action”.  I remembered back in 2015 (two years after I joined Toastmasters), I had an opportunity to deliver a 15 minute speech to 200 people at a technical conference.  After the speech, I talked to some of the attendees, and the first thing they asked – “Are you a Toastmaster?”, as they enjoyed my technical presentation a lot!
  • Impromptu speech – It took me two years to deliver my first Table Topics, but I have finally gotten over my fear.
  • Leadership skills – All events in Toastmasters are on a volunteer basis, I got to learn how to persuade and inspire others to help in different Toastmasters events.

4) What recognition and awards have you received from Toastmasters?

There were two events that I treasured a lot:

  • Area Director of the Year (2016-2017) – this was a total surprise to me. I never imagined going for an Area Director role, but it’s other members (Aditi Vijaykumar and Karthik Kalpat) in my clubs who set a good example and inspired me to move forward.  And many thanks to all the Club leaders in my Area who stepped up for key events such as Club Officer Trainings, Toastmaster Leadership Institute events and contests.
  • DTM (March 30, 2018) – When I first joined Toastmasters, my initial goal was to finish a Competent Communicator (the first 10 speeches). I never imagined going all the way to become a Distinguished Toastmaster. Frankly, it was not an easy task – it took me 5 years. But I am very happy to finally get it.

5) Do you have any word of wisdom or advice?

There are two quotes that I go by:

  • Dream without action is just dreams – you need action to become reality.
  • Don’t give up – The secret to our success is that we never, never give up.

Written by Hanh Chau