Toastmasters is popularly known for improving one’s public speaking.
But this international association is not just about that! Going to club meetings helps you learn a whole lot of other skills too.
1. Social skills: Toastmasters meetings are a great place to get your social fix once a week outside of your work network. I like going to meetings because as a solo-entrepreneur, I work on my own and it’s nice to meet other people.
2. Networking: Not essentially something that gets you business but adding more people to your network is always a plus. Last week, I met someone who is as active on Linkedin as I am and I promptly added him to my connections.
3. Speech writing: You will learn how to put together your ideas into a speech, to be delivered in a limited time. This is a skill that can be useful in a lot of work situations too. And while you are at it, you will also learn to use different tools like humour, dialogues, stories etc to make your speech interesting.
4. Time management: Every speech, every section of a Toastmasters club meeting has time limits – kept track of by the appointed timer at the meeting. You learn to deliver your ideas in a given time frame.
5. Public speaking: Well! This is what the hype is about, right? You will find a ready and supportive audience to practice your speaking on. And you can always speak at more than one club to conquer your fears of facing people.
6. Non threatening environment: Toastmasters not only gets you a ready audience but also a supportive one. It doesn’t matter if you failed miserably or froze because of fear, you will find only encouraging applause from your club members.
7. Leadership: Toastmasters also has a formal leadership track to complete and get certified in. Whether you pick up just a role in a meeting or help organise district level competitions, you will learn team skills and try your hand at leadership.
8. Co-ordination: Running the Toastmasters clubs is voluntary and involves team work. You take up roles on your own and work with the others to conduct a successful meeting. This will teach you co-ordinate, communicate clearly (to avoid misunderstanding) and get along with everyone.
9. Evaluation and feedback: Toastmasters is not just about delivering your speech. every meeting has an evaluation round where each speaker is given feedback. When you take up a speech slot, you are also assigned an evaluator. Keeping your speech objectives in mind, your evaluator will give you valuable feedback on what you did well and what can be done better.
10. Positivity and optimism: The general spirit at any Toastmasters club is positive and full of encouragement. It has a very “giving” spirit. This is a perfect place to let your insecurities show, make mistakes and get better at important life skills like speaking and leadership
11. Multi tasking: When you take up roles at a meeting, you will not just work on it but also participate in the meeting too.
For instance, if you are a timer, your role is to keep time for every speaker who comes on stage. But you will also listen to them along side and applaud.
Also, if you volunteer to organise the meetings, you will be doing this apart from your regular work too. This definitely helps you hone your time management skills.
This post is the first in a series on understanding Toastmasters better. In the next post, I’ll be talking about how the clubs function and how to find the a club near you to become a member.
If you have any questions about this, feel free to drop in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them.