Building Air Quality July 2018

BUILDING AIR QUALITY A TOAST! The Art of Communicating, Listening, and Public Speaking BAQ 281-448-1100 or TOLL FREE 866-367-1177 | | July 2018

In 2002, an elementary school in Katy, Texas, began experiencing symptoms of a mold problem. My name was referred by a friend of a friend, and I went out there to take a look. Sure enough, some water damage had created serious mold growth that needed to be addressed immediately. The mold was discovered around spring break, and the superintendent decided to extend the vacation another week while the district determined what to do. Understandably, the parents of the students were not happy to hear about their kids spending time in a school with mold. The superintendent asked me if I would help him address concerns parents might have about the situation in a public forum at one of the district’s high school auditoriums. I agreed to answer a few questions. At the presentation, the superintendent introduced me to the audience, and then completely disappeared, leaving me to address 800 confused, angry, and emotional parents. Being required to deliver an impromptu presentation and answer questions from angry parents alone wasn’t what I planned on doing that evening. But, believe it or not, I had actually trained for this exact situation, thanks to my time with Toastmasters International. I know many people who have been or are currently members of Toastmasters, but if you’ve never heard of this group before, then the quick explanation is that Toastmasters is an educational organization dedicated to helping people from all walks of life improve their communication, public speaking, and leadership skills. I joined Toastmasters in 1992, and in just a few years, I realized that if I’d joined a decade earlier, not only would I have been much further along in terms of public speaking, but my business would be further ahead, too!

listen to others, and think on your feet. All of these things came in handy when I stood in that auditorium, explaining to parents that their children were not in danger and that the mold was being dealt with. After about 30 minutes, the superintendent reappeared, ended the meeting, and everything was fine. The parents were reassured, the school district was happy, and after the mold was dealt with, the kids were able to go back to school with no problem. I firmly believe that without my Toastmasters training, that presentation could have gone a lot worse. There are few people who can naturally handle themselves under pressure, explain their thoughts eloquently, and reassure an angry crowd of concerned parents. A few years later, I was asked to help address the public and community leaders when another school district suffered a mold problem. This time, I was in front of parents, as well as the press, pastors, and one very rude United States Representative. It was a high-

“Being a Toastmaster means learning how to organize your thoughts, speak and write without rambling, communicate clearly, listen to others, and think on your feet.”

A big part of Toastmasters is getting up and giving speeches, but that’s just one tool. Being a Toastmaster means learning how to organize your thoughts, speak and write without rambling, communicate clearly,

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