I was 12 years old when I was forced to give my first speech in School. I intentionally left my notes at home so that my teacher permits me to not speak but she insisted me to speak or say sorry on the stage. I spoke. Thereafter, I stopped volunteering to give any speech.
Now, I ask to get a speaker slot. Toastmasters Club has greatly enhanced my confidence (and probably speaking skills too). Toastmasters Club is fun and learning experience and I highly recommend everyone to join Toastmasters.
Why should I join Toastmasters?
- You improve speaking skills. You learn to eliminate filler words (um, ah, you know etc.), and use rhetorical devices, body language, vocal variety, props and pause to make your conversation impressive.
- You can network with people from all walks of life and those who have different accents, mother tongues and nationality. Notice the variety in my club:
- Professions – Project/Program Manager, Vice Presidents, Dietician, Lawyer, HR Professional, Librarian, Book Author, Social worker, Sports personnel, Entrepreneur etc.
- Accents, nationality, mother tongue – American, Puerto Rican, Indian, Chinese, Polish, Russian, Egyptian, Korean etc.
- You get cross-cultural training. I learnt “paying allegiance to flag” in Toastmaster’s meeting
- You just have to pay only around $50 every 6 months as membership fees.
How does toastmaster function?
- Structured approach
- Toastmasters meetings are very structured. See a typical Agenda of Fairleigh Early Birds Toastmasters Club.
- Toastmaster’s Leadership and Speaker Manuals are very structured. Each Manual has 5 to 10 projects. A project teaches expectation in 2-3 pages and then you have to perform – give a speech, organize an event (membership campaign, speech contest etc.), or perform a role (General Evaluator, Toastmaster etc.) in a meeting.
- Feedback from fellow members – people help people
- Fellow members from everyday life give feedback. They narrate their struggle and suggest their solution. You observe to learn and improve. It takes time to learn and people understand that.
- Toastmasters provide constructive feedback. They use sandwich evaluation – area of improvement sandwiched between two appreciations. There is never a criticism.
- Every activity (speech, evaluation, role playing, organizing event etc.) can be evaluated and you get credit towards your next certificate. You earn Certificates for completing a set of speeches or leadership tracks. Even Club earns award when members earn award so there is a motivation for all Club Members. Ultimate award is the title Distinguished Toastmasters that can be obtained by dedicated 5-6 years effort.
Do you still have a doubt?
Be a guest at a meeting. Guests are always warmly welcomed in Toastmasters meeting. Guests provide feedback that no member can provide – first impression of a meeting. Guests become new members that bring new energy to a Club and new members are many a times winners in speech contests.
Testimonial of a fellow Toastmaster from my club:
Being part of something that is bigger than we are and being able to contribute to the improvement of others as they help me improve is one of the reasons I’ve been a member since….forever?
Are you a Toastmaster and want to share your experience? Or do you have any question before going to a Toastmasters meeting? Please speak your mind.