An Interview with Colm Roe
By Andy Ellman CC
When did you join TM and why?
I attended the first meeting of Dublin South TM in 2011. Why? On a fear of public speaking scale of 1-10 I would have been nudging the upper limit. I gave an appalling Best Man speech when I was in my 30’s and it haunted me. I was feeling so ill before the speech I couldn’t eat! Even a few pints beforehand didn’t make any difference. I was involved with a Resident’s Association, had to speak in front of (on average) 12 people, and I felt as bad as I did at the wedding! I knew that I had to do something, and had often thought about going to a Toastmasters meeting but used the excuse that the club was in the city and was too difficult to attend. When DS started, I ran out of excuses.
Have you found that being in TM has influenced you in your personal life?
Definitely! Although I don’t speak in public outside our club very often, I do find myself in situations where the training and skills I’ve developed in TM come into play. It’s almost a mantra; I actually repeat to myself, ‘you’re a Toastmaster…you can do this’. Positive thinking is all well and good on its own. But knowing what you have faced and accomplished in TM meetings puts ‘meat on them bones’. You can do it because you’ve been trained to do it!
Have there been moments when you regretted joining TM?
NEVER! I can’t deny that it hasn’t been a challenging journey. Pretty much every speech I gave, or role I performed scared me senseless. But they scare you a little bit less every time. I’ve managed to reduce that nervous time from three days to about an hour. There were times before a speech when I asked myself why the hell I put myself in that position; but the answer always came afterwards. It’s such an amazing feeling after you face your biggest fear. I’ve met wonderful people, supportive, dedicated like-minded people. TM is unique, certainly at club level. There’s no envy, even when we compete against each other in contests.
What advice would you give to a Toastmaster?
Prepare and enjoy. Never refuse the chance to speak. Nurture the idea that one day YOU WILL become a relaxed speaker. Attend as many meetings as you can. Always have a speech ready. Take risks in club meetings! That’s your training ground. Enter contests. Request speeches/roles in other clubs. Make your club work for you by being proactive.
How many committee roles had you performed prior to becoming president?
Year one in DS I achieved my CC. The next year I was SAA. Unusually, I went straight from SAA to President. Several committee members left so I was their ‘last resort’
Did you initially find the role of President of Dublin South daunting?
Going straight from SAA to President was difficult. The normal transition from SAA to President would include either VPM/VPPR or VPE, often two of them. (VPE automatically goes to President) A lot of knowledge is accumulated on the way. So I had a steep learning curve. But you learn the ropes quicker when you’re placed in that situation. The bottom line is that you are looking after people who were so pleasant that it wasn’t a chore and the daunting part soon dissipated.
What possessed you to decide to start a new club?
With 60 members it wasn’t really my decision. TM recommends that a club should split when it reaches 40. We were adding so many extra meetings to reduce the backlog of speech/role requests it became obvious that we had to split.
What where the major obstacles you encountered during the process?
At our AGM 100% of DS members agreed to split, so there was no problem there. When we approached the District Governor in May, she told us that District 71 needed a new club to be chartered before the end of June. To attain Select Distinguished District we had to charter D18. Quite a responsibility! The biggest problem we had was getting information on how to complete the process.
Not many clubs have split, so the usual pool of experience doesn’t exist. Then we had the problem of who moves to the new club! We had to be careful that there was a good mix of experience in each club. So we decided that it would be split 20/40. If one club had to struggle it should be the new club.
In the end we chartered by the skin of our teeth. On the 30th June in Istanbul at 12.30 am I spoke to one of the charter team in TI on the West Coast of America who accepted payment and confirmed that our new club had chartered on time.
If we’d chartered the next day it would have made no difference to us. Luanne Kent’s presentation to me recently (she was the District Governor at the time) was more a presentation to the members of D18. You were brave (or mad) enough to move, were given damn all time to decide if it was the right decision…but did it anyway. So there were many obstacles…but obstacles are just things we jump over.
Describe the feelings you experienced when the first meeting of Dublin 18 finally got underway.
Relief, excitement, pride and an overriding realisation that the people who made the commitment to move to D18 deserved the best from the new committee.
Have you set any further goals for your TM adventure?
I was never fond of TM new logo. ‘Where leaders are made’ I’m coming around to it…but still have an issue or two. I see so much leadership potential in our club, and believe that our club will have a huge impact over the coming years. So I suppose my goal would be to assist this process. We’ve just begun as a club, we’re evolving, and there’s so much commitment I believe that we will become something special.
Area Governor might be an option as well?
Would you do it again?
For members like you! Yes, yes and yes
Colm thank you so much for your time in giving us all this valuable insight.