How to Reap Maximum Benefits of Toastmasters
Everyone joins Toastmasters for a reason. Some join the Toastmasters program to improve English language skills, some join it to overcome their stage fear, some join it to become better leaders, and some join it to master their craft of public speaking. However, one reason is common – everyone who joins Toastmasters wants to change – change to become better than before. Below are a few tips which are most important to maximize benefits of Toastmasters program:
Speak up in the Toastmasters meeting as often as you can:
There are many Toastmasters members who join meetings as silent observers and start hiding at every possible opportunity to speak. They are the first ones to duck under the table anytime the Table Topics masters seeks them out for an impromptu speech or when the nominations for speakers for the following meeting are sought. This is the first crucial barrier you will have to break.
Remember, “Action cures fear”. The more you speak – the less your public speaking fear will haunt you. Give your icebreaker speech as soon as you can. Speak up in every meeting be it in form of a Table Topic speaker, a Toastmaster, a supplementary evaluator, or maybe even as a joke teller to gain maximum benefits of Toastmasters.
Take part in the Executive Committee as an Officer:
Along with your speaking journey, Toastmasters also gives you an opportunity to improve your skills as a Leader. Remember Toastmasters’ tagline is “Where Leaders are made”. Not only does signing up as an EC officer give you more opportunities to speak, but it also helps shape you more as a leader. Even if you do not get elected as an officer – ask the elected Executive Committee if they will be willing to take in a shadow EC officer. This will help relieve some of their workload while giving you valuable experience to reap maximum benefits of Toastmasters.
Toastmasters Mentoring Program
Take an active part in your club’s mentoring program. Ideally, each new member who joins Toastmasters should have a mentor assigned. If you are a new member ask your club’s VP Education for a mentor. If you have been a Toastmaster for a while – consider mentoring a new member who might need help. A mentor can help the member understand the various paths and awards in Toastmasters; help the member with speech writing and critique; help evaluate and motivate the member along with his speaking and leadership journey.
Complete your Toastmasters educational awards
Toastmasters has two tracks – Leadership and Communication. When you give prepared speeches, you make progress on the communication track. As you participate and take up roles in meetings, you make progress on the leadership track. You must attempt and achieve as many education awards as you can, at a pace which is comfortable to you. There is no point in rushing to complete an award in two months and at the same time, there is no merit in delaying the speeches too much as you might lose the learnings from your speech project which you can apply to the next one. Make an attempt to complete the Competent Communicator manual in the first year of your joining Toastmasters.
Compete in Contests
Every year Toastmasters organizes several kinds of speech contests such as International Speech Contest, Humorous Speech Contest, Evaluation Speech Contest, and Table Topics Speech Contest. Make an attempt to sign up for as many contests as you can. Once you sign up you would be preparing to compete against other speakers at levels ranging from Club to International Level. I had the fortune of reaching the District Finals twice in the last two years in the International Speech Contest and Evaluation Speech Contest, and I attribute the maximum benefits of Toastmasters which I gained to the preparation and participation in these contests.
Visit new Clubs
When you step outside your comfort zone that is where the maximum learning happens. If you keep giving speeches in the same setting and amidst familiar faces you can become complacent very easily. When you give your speech project in a new club outside your home club amidst brand new faces, you would feel that rush of first speech again, and overcoming that fear and rush of speaking to new audiences is the best way to grow.
I hope you enjoy applying these practices in your daily quest to become a better and more proficient speaker. Please subscribe to my blog for public speaking tips, sample speeches, advice on Toastmasters, and keep your comments and suggestions coming in.
About the Author
Puneet Wadhwa, the author of this blog – Speak to Succeed! is an IT Business Executive by profession, and a Public Speaker and Leadership trainer by passion. He has been professionally speaking for many years and has won several awards for his public speaking engagements. He presents corporate trainings and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and lead effectively. To contact Puneet, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the contact form at http://www.speaktosucceed.in/about-me/.