by Marian R. Hicks Area 22 Director

I love movies. I love the moment an unexpected change occurs that causes your jaw to drop open. This moment, known as a plot twist, changes the trajectory of the movie. As I reflected on Toastmasters this year, we encountered a plot twist none of us could have foreseen.

A plot twist challenges the characters in the story to consider a different perspective, try a different approach or learn a new skill. It causes them to pivot. Throughout this year, we’ve changed our perspective on conducting effective, sustainable virtual meetings. We’ve learned how to facilitate contests, council meetings, and virtual conferences. And we’ve honed our technical skills to master various online meeting platforms.

When I arrived at the conference for my session, I entered with excitement. Little did I know, as I headed to my assigned room, I was about to be cast in the leading role of my very own plot twist.

I had my session perfectly planned. After my opening, I made that first important click to launch the audience into the presentation. And nothing happened. I clicked again. Nothing. I quickly glanced at my zoom master and he whispered “the screen is frozen and your slides won’t advance.” I quickly regroup and whisper to myself, “this is a plot twist, now pivot.”

I could tell you within minutes I was happily clicking through my presentation. But I wasn’t. It was actually 20 minutes before the slides would advance. But at that point, I didn’t care. I stopped being concerned the moment I acknowledged a plot twist was occurring. The plot twist caused me to pivot. The pivot became an integral part of my lesson. It allowed me to weave in a conversation on leadership flexibility and adaptability that was not part of my original script. A simple frozen screen changed the entire experience for the better.

Here’s the best part. The plot twist isn’t the end of the story. It is simply a defining moment that requires a decision. Do we stay or do we go? Do we change and grow, or do we remain the same and become dormant? When I finished my session, I walked through the halls and peeked in on other presenters. When it comes to District 25, I had my answer.

We stayed. We will grow. We will finish the race. And most importantly, we know how to pivot.

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