By Ron Mayne
Toastmasters is an international group of clubs people join to improve their public speaking. They meet twice a month (some weekly), during the COVID pandemic on line, but normally in person. There is a fun and supportive atmosphere that helps you grow your speaking skills.
The purpose of the clubs is to offer a place where people can learn in a friendly and safe environment to improve their public speaking.
There are many reasons to join but here are my top 10 reasons to join Toastmasters:
- It improves your public speaking – Practice makes perfect, whether you are making a cup of coffee or training to run a marathon. The first time you put the coffee machine on or strapped on your running shoes is not as good as when you have done it for the 100th time. At Toastmasters you practice your public speaking and therefore your competence grows. Some people get so good they enter and win competitions or even get paid to speak.
- Improves your spontaneous speaking – Have you ever been asked to, “Just say a few words” by someone? You get tongue-tied, mouth goes dry, as you do not know what to say. Does that sound familiar? This is where one of the practised skills of impromptu speaking comes in. Not only do you get to plan your speeches you also get to make ones up on the spot, all in a fun supportive place.
- Creative thinking – As part of the process of writing, rehearsing, and composing speeches on the spot you start thinking differently as your creativity gets supercharged.
- Career advancement – Toastmasters helps you communicate and get your message across to fellow employees and management. If you can speak confidently and get your point across, you raise your profile in life and in your business. Many companies have Toastmaster Corporate clubs for their employees which is an indication of how highly some companies rate Toastmasters to develop their people.
- Presentations – In our personal and professional life whether it is for a slide show at a family event or business, presenting is a part of life today. You get to practice presentations if you want as well. Remember practice makes perfect.
- Confidence building – Standing up in front of a room of strangers for the first time is scary. You are afraid of making a mistake or looking foolish. All the fears and emotions come bubbling up inside you like a volcano of “I can’t do this.” The good news is if you do that in a room of Toastmasters, even if you do it badly you will get a round of applause; you will get feedback on how to improve; and you will get a mentor to help you get better. All this will build your confidence, making you feel like a superhero whose special power is public speaking. Why do you think there is an “S” on Superman’s chest?
- Social confidence – Have you ever felt awkward in social situations? You did not know what to say? This could be in a coffee shop when they get your order wrong, at a party where your meet someone for the first time, or in the office when you want to able to start a conversation. Toastmasters will help you build your confidence so you feel able to talk to anyone.
- Body language – You do not just communicate with your voice. Your body talks too. The problem is you do not walk around with a full length mirror all the time to see yourself. Toastmasters will help you improve your body language as you speak to your audience in a safe, friendly, and knowledgeable place.
- Timing – They say timing is everything in life. Have you ever been to a meeting and the speaker droned on and on and on? Toastmasters helps you get your speaking within time limits as all speeches are timed. You get your message across in a timely way and this keeps your audience engaged and happy.
- Networking – You are in a room full of people who want to improve themselves. Like you they are motivated and want to succeed. Toastmasters is dedicated to improving you. The improved you sees new opportunities, by growing your personal and professional network.
For the sceptical among who are asking where the catch is; there is not one. The clubs are made of members who participate in roles at each meeting designed to ensure the meeting runs well. As a member you are invited to take up roles at these meetings; it is how you learn about public speaking. You can if you wish to take online educational programmes called “Pathways.” These pathways are there to help improve your public speaking through modules that you complete in your own time and at your own pace.
How much does it cost? I could give you all the usual about less than the price of a couple of cups of coffee a month. However, to be specific in the UK it is around £9 per month paid in two instalments a year. Google what a public speaking course will cost you from a provider and see the difference.
If you don’t try you don’t succeed. Succeed with Toastmasters.
To find your local club follow the link to Toastmasters International Website and type in your location https://www.toastmasters.org/find-a-club?
Our email for enquires at Tunbridge Wells Speakers Club is email@example.com