Member of the Month
In District 30, there are many members who we feel should be recognized for their passion, dedication and commitment to both Toastmasters International and the educational program. To honor and appreciate them, we have created this page to acknowledge them.
Every month, we will highlight one dynamic member who has added value to the fabric of District 30 through participation, promotion and/ or positive spirit.
November 2017 – Linda Keefer DTM
Eric Feinendengen: I was so excited when I learned that you were our November Member of the Month! I know everything that you do for the members so on behalf of District 30, CONGRATULATIONS!
Linda Keefer: I’m excited too. This really is a huge privilege!
Q: When did you join Toastmasters and which clubs do you belong to?
A: I joined in June 2009. Right now, I only belong to one club (Crystal Lake Toastmasters) but at one point, I was part of 6 other clubs: Fox Valley, Cary Grove, Toast of UL Club, Crystal Clear, TOP Toastmasters and AON Hewitt Toastmasters.
Q: What is your current Toastmasters educational level?
A: I earned my DTM in July 2011. It took a lot of hard work, diligence and dedication but I was determined to knock away at it. The reward is definitely what you put out to achieve it.
Q: You mentioned that you initially joined Toastmasters to satisfy a coworker, can you expand on that?
A: I first heard about Toastmasters in 1988 and was like “Oh! That sounds really cool” and “Maybe I’ll check it out someday.” Of course, I didn’t for 2 decades until I began working with this girl at Follet Software. She was absolutely petrified of speaking in front of anyone and was the type of person that Toastmasters was made for. Every day for 2 months, she would say “lets go to Toastmasters.” I finally joined to shut her up (laughter). Ironically 8 weeks after I joined, she quit. I am absolutely hooked and here I am 9½ years later!
Q: When you joined in 08, did you have a mentor? Who helped you the most in your Toastmasters journey?
A: I did not have a mentor, it took the entire village! With being part of some of the best clubs in the District, I’ve had a handful of de facto mentors over the years. From the people who first shook my hand at Crystal Clear such as Steve Scott DTM up to Joan Walton who served last year as a District leader. I’ve had a collection of people who’ve influenced me.
Q: How has the Toastmasters experienced changed your life?
A: I was going through a tough time in 2009 and if it wasn’t for Toastmasters, I wouldn’t have made it. I’ve been involved in a number of different organizations, philanthropic and professional. Never has there been an organization that provides as much support as Toastmasters. It’s so diverse and the level of dedication to one another in this organization stands out more than other. People are friendly and helpful. They are just with you. My Toastmasters friends are like family to me.
Q: You have a natural inclination to support other members. What’s your philosophy when you go to a club and when it comes to helping others?
A: I love to observe people. In every meeting, there’s always a pleasant surprise. You’ll see someone help a new member or introduce themselves to a guest. I delight in watching that and I feel blessed. If you you’re observant, you’ll always see something inspiring. You see humanity in action and that makes me feel good.
Q: How do you prepare to give a speech and how do you go about selecting a topic?
A: For speech contests, I write them out word for word first and then I start slicing and dicing. If it’s a speech for a club meeting, I’ll put bullet points and write a framework around it. Most of the work I do in preparing a speech is not writing it but talking it out loud to myself. I think it is critical to write things down. If I have something written down, then I can edit it. I’ll work the speech and make some notes until I finally get to where I have memorized a solid opening and a conclusion with points in the middle. For a contest speech, I will practice it over and over. I don’t want to memorize an entire speech because it doesn’t feel natural to me. I’m a conversational speaker and I like to speak to my audience. You need to connect with them. Eye contact is critical and I feel like I’m really touching them and hitting them in the gut. That’s really important to me.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about joining Toastmasters and isn’t quite sure to jump in yet?
A: If you think that everyone is polished and professional, you’re wrong. Everybody, no matter how polished they may seem, is working on something. That’s why Toastmasters exists. We’re not here to judge or criticize, but to improve ourselves. You can fall on your face but you’re among friends. Also, in my 9½ years, I’ve met and engaged with literally thousands of Toastmasters, I’ve never ever met a single person who dreaded joining, giving speeches or getting involved. You will never regret being a part of this organization.
E.F.: Thank you Linda. On behalf of District 30, congratulations for being November’s member of the month.
Eric Feinendegen ACG, CL is District 30’s NEW Interviewer for our Leader and Member of the Month Series for 2017-2018. He joined Toastmasters in 2004, is a member of 3 clubs, and has served in various Club officer roles. You can reach Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a list all Archived 2017 Members of the Month, click here