“Toastmasters… that’s for people who are terrible at public speaking, right?”
My name is Kevin and that’s what I used to think before I became a member.
I was wrong.
The truth is, Toastmasters is for anyone who wants to improve their communication skills. It’s for people who want to get their point across during a one-on-one meeting. It’s for people who want to propose bold and forward-thinking recommendations to Committee of the Whole. Communicating is a skill that needs continuous and deliberate practice to master.
How could Toastmasters be useful to you? Let’s go through a few scenarios.
Are you ever called upon in a meeting unexpectedly to comment something? And when that happens, did you ever fumble with your words trying to pull a coherent sentence together? I know I have.
At Toastmasters, we call upon people to talk for a minute or so on various topics to practice speaking off the cuff.
Are you ever asked to make a presentation to convince others that your idea is worth pursuing? And when this happens, did you ever realize at the end of the presentation nearly everyone completely missed the point? I know I have.
At Toastmasters, we offer people opportunities to present speeches on the topics they care about. This is a great way to learn how your communication style resonates with others and how to improve.
Are you ever asked to comment on someone else’s idea that they just presented? And when this happens, did you ever awkwardly hesitate trying to figure out whether to give a supportive comment or an honest comment? I know I have.
At Toastmasters, we teach people to give effective feedback. It’s an opportunity to learn how reinforce what others do right and to help them improve.
We all have those times where we do not present the best version of ourselves. With practice, these times happen less and less. Also with practice, times where we shine through happen more and more.
Are you ever asked to present the end result of a project that you and your project team have worked on for a long time? And when that happens, did you ever impress the audience with your insights and delivery? Did you ever perfectly time your content related jokes to get genuine laughter? Did you ever get many congratulatory comments and emails on your presentation skills after presenting to your organization’s Operational Leadership Team (OLT)? I know I have.
As I said before, communicating is a skill that needs continuous and deliberate practice to master. Through Toastmasters, I have learned so much about effective communication. The group offers a learning environment where you can develop at your own pace. The members are supportive and happy help.
Come for a visit and see for yourself. Every Thursday, 12-1pm at the Municipal Offices.
• Kevin Y.
Financial Business Analyst, Financial Services