What is Toastmasters? And why should I become one?
Are two questions I get asked a lot.
What is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters is a worldwide organisation of speaking clubs run by members to help themselves and others to become better public speakers. But it is not just that. Ralph C. Smedley started Toastmasters in 1905 because he saw that people needed interpersonal skills in communicating, management and leadership in the community. Build better people skills, build a better community is the basic principle.
Being memorable for the right reasons
Anybody can shout and scream to make themselves heard. Do they get the message over? Probably not, because all you hear is Blah-Blah-Blah! If you think for one moment about a great speech you have heard, it may have been from history such a Winston Churchill’s “we will fight them on the beaches,” radio broadcast, an actor on stage perhaps even a TED talk. They have a presence; they have a voice that can be heard, and Toastmasters can give that to you.
More than giving speeches
Toastmasters is not just about giving speeches. It is about helping people to give great speeches. First and foremost, it is a Club; individuals share experience and roles to get better at their communication skill sets. Members give a speech and receive feedback on what they did well and how they can improve, and members get better because of this. If, as a member, you get that good, you can even compete in speech contests at local, regional, national and international levels.
Learning at your own pace
Because it is a club, you’re learning at your pace, developing what you feel comfortable with. There are many public speaking courses out there that cost hundreds of pounds for a 1- or 2-day course, where information and participation are forced on you. Smedley realised that the ordinary person could not afford such expenses or pressurised experiences, so he developed the club system, where people participate and learn at the same time. An entire year of your Club membership at Toastmasters, in Tunbridge Wells costs just over £100. It is a friendly, cost-effective learning experience.
Personal development and education
Learning pathways: As part of your membership, you get access to online tutorials on a number of personal development programmes. These can be done at your own pace without any pressure or not at all. It is your Pathway.
Toastmasters builds confidence
Because you want to make a difference in your life and your first step is having the confidence to do so.
For me what Toastmasters does is build confidence, both in me and in others. We all need confidence in our lives today. The confidence to take on the challenges we face every day.
Confidence is something you are born with. A new-born baby is confident. It may not know it, but it is. It is then something that is taken away from us by circumstance and people around us. It is something you must take back!
Everybody has had their confidence damaged; life is full of trials and tribulations. If you come along to a club, be reassured that it is a friendly, welcoming place for you to develop. When you do get up and speak, you can do so without fear, you can be loud and proud and that builds your confidence.
Taking the first step
The club meets twice a month on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday evenings. The meetings have a format and roles, because everyone gets involved. But do not worry, you do not get thrown up in front everybody on your first visit. It is your club, your pace. You can take small steps to build your confidence, knowing that other members are all there cheering you on every step of the way.
Every journey starts with a first step. Take your first step with Toastmasters.