Toastmasters is probably not the best choice of word for a speakers club in this day and age. When you say Toastmaster you see an image of very posh man in a red coat with a big sneering grin. A bit like this:
The truth of the matter is that Toastmasters is a fantastic global organisation which promotes improvement of speaking, presentation and leadership skills in a ‘safe’ environment. There are over 100k members and 100s of clubs worldwide. The concept has something to offer to everyone – from seasoned presenters to total novices.
I have recently started up a Toastmasters club in my organisation. Local members from other clubs have helped to get the club up and running and train new members. By registering the club with the Toastmasters International organisation, we have access to manuals, textbooks, meeting materials and a fantastic support network.
Meetings are very structured and have something to offer to everyone. There are various assigned roles in each meeting – from evaluators to time keepers – and from running the meeting to giving a speech. Toastmasters incorporates structured and prepared speaking alongside the impromptu ‘Table Topics’ – a session where members are asked to give 1-2 minute talks on an unknown topic. There is also various programs that you can work through in order to gain competent communicator status and other titles (which are actually globally recognised).
To summarise, even if you think that you are a good speaker/presenter, there is always something to learn. The club will push you just outside your comfort zone and help you to extend it. The skills and confidence that can be learned from impromptu speaking are particularly valuable for the next time when you get asked a question off-guard, for interviews and for your 1-minute elevator chat. Best of all, because everybody else in the club is in the same situation, it is a safe and fun place to practice – much better so than a meeting with your boss! These skills truly distinguish you from your peers.
I would urge you to check if there is a club near you. Go along to a meeting. Listen to some of the prepared speeches from people of all abilities and decide if you want to participate. The worst that can happen is that you will be inspired!
Have you ever been to Toastmasters or do you like the idea?
Have a great Saturday