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How Can Toastmasters Help You

Posted by lyndabell on April 4, 2010

If you are not familiar with Toastmasters, the following mission statement says it all.

The mission of the Toastmasters Club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.

Toastmasters offers skill building in several areas; communication, leadership and social networks

In the area of communication, the learning opportunities include public speaking though prepared speeches, impromptu speaking and evaluations

  • The prepared speeches are what Toastmaster’s is most known for.  Club members have the opportunity to develop public speaking skills by giving 5 to 7 minute prepared speeches.  Toastmasters members typically do not use props or slides in their presentations.  The challenge is to deliver a speech within a set timeframe, using proper grammar, no filler words and minimal notes.  Prepared speeches are evaluated by another member of the club.  The evaluations are a unique feature of a Toastmasters Club.  Evaluations are delivered to encourage the speaker and develop self-confidence, however they are also delivered to provide actionable feedback for improvement. 
  • The impromptu speeches are opportunities for Toastmasters members to learn to think on their feet and deliver a speech with no prior preparation.  Impromptu speeches are from 1 to 2 minutes in length.  Speakers are given a topic and asked to speak on that topic with no preparation.  I am sure you can think of many times in your personal or professional life when you have had to speak with little or no notice.  Examples include giving the toast at dinner, speaking during a retirement party, riding in the elevator with a senior manager or sharing your opinion during a meeting.  If impromptu speaking situations make you uncomfortable Toastmasters will definitely help you overcome the jitters. 
  • Evaluations provide another opportunity for building communication and presentation skills.  The role of Evaluator is a key role in the Toastmasters meeting.  Evaluators are asked to listen to and observe others and their work and offer feedback.  The evaluator provides an honest reaction in a constructive manner to the speaker using guidelines provided based on the speakers objective.   Good evaluators give feedback that is helpful and encouraging.

Toastmasters also provides the opportunity to build leadership skills.  Toastmasters members are encouraged to participate in the weekly meetings by filling a leadership position on the agenda.  You may also develop leadership skills by serving in a club officer position.  There are also district meetings and educational events that provide other opportunities to build leadership skills.  For you leadership skills may be in the development of sound meeting planning and time management.  For someone else development of leadership skills may be in coaching and mentoring others.  No matter what your particular need, Toastmasters will have a role or program that will help you realize your development goal for leadership.

Social Networking is another benefit of belonging to Toastmasters.  You will meet new people and form friendships through weekly meetings, contests and social gatherings.  While Toastmasters meetings are structured and develop skills in meeting management, there is an atmosphere of fellowship and fun in each Toastmasters Club meeting.

I have recently become involved with a local Toastmaster’s Group.  When I attended my first meeting I was not sure what to expect or even if I would continue on with the group.  What I have discovered is a community of friends and professional associates all focused on self-improvement and helping others.  I am committed to lifelong learning and have chosen Toastmasters for my personal development program.  I hope you will find a club near you and make Toastmasters part of your lifelong learning plan!

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