competent communicator, competent leader, District 21, First Canadian Toastmasters Club, public speaking, self development, speechcraft, Spring Conference 2015, Swan Lake Trumpeters, Toastmasters International
Shout out #3 is all about mastering the art and science of toasting, making toasts, hosting, emceeing, speaking, greeting, engaging, inspiring, connecting, reading the audience, emoting, giving feedback, evaluating, leading, playing, evoking, and generally building up your inner strength of character so you give yourself the gift of a voice that can be heard by people other than yourself. If you haven’t yet guessed, it is all about Toastmasters.
It started when I had a couple of television interviews at work and I found myself…gasping…for…air during the interviews when I let the sentence runintothenextone. ~Breathe. I needed to find a course, or educate myself somehow, on how to overcome this stress response. I wanted to be able to perform on camera as well as I envisioned I could.
Well, after looking around at available courses, a friend suggested I look at Toastmasters International. Apparently, they can help you in these types of situations, and I learned that they can do a lot more.
I looked in to it, and behold, it sounded fantastic! It charged very little to be a part of a club ( I would guess about $10-15/month for most clubs in my area) and it enabled you to work at your own pace, while reaping the benefits of listening to other people speak and be evaluated all at once. Holy smokes! How was this possible? Some courses that were offered on public speaking were a couple thousand dollars and lasted a week or a weekend, with no follow up.
I could go to these groups after work, or before work, but travelling by bus meant I would spend a lot of time in transit, literally. I then had an idea. What about starting my own Toastmasters club?
Looking in to that idea started to make sense. I worked for a large enough company with about 300 employees in one building. I needed 20 people to sign up to officially charter the club, so I sent around an investigative email to explore the idea with staff. I received enough positive emails that I started the push, and even though we weren’t official, we started meeting right away with those that took interest.
It took a full year to get the 20 people required to pay the dues and become founding members, and the Swan Lake Trumpeters Toastmaster Club was born! With it’s policy of maintaining approximately 50% staff and 50% public members, it had an excellent mix of people that diversified the speaking topics.
I participated in the group at several levels and I have to tell you, it gave me confidence to speak to groups, gave me courage to try new things, gave me skills needed to lead others, and gave me a chance to practice my skill in the real world where I and others emceed many local community events!
I owe a lot of my outward talent to the exercises I did in Toastmasters. I finally finished my ten speeches in my Speech manual, and then my Leadership manual, to become what is know as a Competent Communicator and a Competent Leader and I now use all those skills in attempting to engage, inspire, and lead young, and not so young, minds in college education.
Truly, Toastmasters is for everyone. It is a safe environment to speak for the very first time. The encouraging advice and evaluations it gives new members gently persuades you to explore what you can do to improve your next speaking part and praises you for your courageous decision to speak up.
If you have ever thought that you wanted to perform better at work, speak more eloquently, be able to say your piece, be heard for your insights, talk to strangers, increase your sales, or simply improve relationships with other people, Toastmasters does that, and it can do it for you. It simply works because it works simply, by building on fundamental building blocks, until you start flowing easier and easier.
The ongoing nature of Toastmasters, with it’s weekly, or biweekly meeting schedule, means that you can make significant progress with simple measurable steps. And if you desire to put more energy in, and become involved in meeting roles, and/or executive roles, you can blossom as far as you desire!
Toastmasters broadened my skill set, and changed my life. I feel competent enough to share how I feel with the most important person in my life, and many other people I am in contact with every day. By spending the necessary time on my own self improvement, I have emboldened others to speak up as well. I have elevated my relationship by actively listening, and I can succinctly give a response that takes in to account the other person’s reaction and feelings.
I love my Swan Lake Toastmasters, and now that I have changed careers, and there is a Toastmasters club where I now work, I will continue my never-ending journey of self improvement by joining that club, the First Canadian Toastmasters Club at Camosun College.
I hope I have impressed upon those reading this article that these clubs are very gentle on newcomers. And if you go to one meeting and it doesn’t resonate with you, try another. They are all slightly different in their flavour, and it may take a few visits with different clubs, as a non paying guest (so don’t worry about cash up front when you are just checking it out) ,to see which one fits you best.
If you really want to increase your performance by leaps and bounds, take in a few months of Toastmasters to get the hang of what it’s all about, then go to a Toastmasters Conference. Here is a link to the next conference in the Spring of 2015 for District 21, which is for our area in British Columbia. It is in Victoria this year! No reason not to attend since you need not pay for accommodations if you live nearby of have friends in the area to crash with! It will blow you away, and you will come back from the weekend event with significant gains in all areas of your speechcraft! They are such a super deal at about $200 for a ticket that includes your meals! But look, it’s $139 right now with the early bird deal! You get to listen to world class speakers, and go to education sessions all day long! You can’t beat that bang for your buck anywhere on earth.
Do it! It’s good for you, and what’s good for you is good for everyone you connect with.