Speaking as a Toastmaster member of more than 35 years…….
Why are you so busy? Why are some people burning both ends of the candle and filling every waking hour with some activity or another? You can say that they are looking for opportunities to better themselves and prove their worth.
I think that many are not looking in the best place.
What has Toastmasters got to do with this? Well, Toastmasters activity presents “opportunities”.
It is the opportunity to discover your passions, capabilities, and motivations. As a dentist, being a Toastmasters member has benefited me immensely. During work, I do not delve very much into a chat with the patient that is not related to their dental problems.
We don’t get to jaw all day unlike some professions as the patients have discomfort and pain issues to solve. We ask standard questions, listen well and provide accurate diagnosis and treatment plans. There are really no social speaking skills to develop as dental patients are often too nervous to strike up any conversations. They just want their problems solved.
What Opportunities do Toastmasters offer?
1 Hence, I joined Toastmasters for the opportunity to hone my communication skills and do good presentations. Toastmasters program called ‘pathways’ today is so structured to improve one’s communication skills project by project. The objectives are clear and there is guidance online and sample videos to watch. One gets to grade our own performance besides being formally evaluated by an experienced member. The improvement is insidious but clearly progressing.
It is a very safe environment to make mistakes at speaking and spruce your communication skills. Everyone learns at the meeting and becomes more adept at each project.
Good communication skills encompass the fields of speaking, body language, delivery style, speech content, voice, the employment of appropriate phrases and words, the proper use of the time allotted, etc.
2 Toastmasters present the opportunity to develop leadership skills too. By joining the committee, one learns to lead others, run meetings smoothly, and fulfill the responsibilities associated with each role. My role as a President was kind of life-changing for a reticent dentist. I discovered that I could come up with almost twenty President’s opening speeches for my term! And I became a ‘recycled’ President for a second time after 10 years, with the opportunity to improve my craft further.
Personally, it has made me more confident, speak more coherently, and think more critically. At least my patients do not seem to have any questions to ask about their conditions as I was relevant and comprehensive about my diagnosis and treatment plan. I attribute my skills to Toastmasters training.
3 Toastmasters present the opportunity to engage in a mentor-mentee relationship which is very important to help a new member grow. New members who feel handicapped by communication skills are assigned mentors who would guide them with the requirements of their new projects until they are comfortable with the system.
4 The opportunity to develop critical thinking skills is due to the need to write one’s script. Based on the manuals, it would be a speech that is structured with an opening, body, and conclusion. It uses good use of the English Language and is to the point, backed up by research, evidence, and/or experience. A good script that meets the objectives would mean that your presentations at your company meetings or events would be relevant and outstanding. It also helps you to analyze a situation in a better light.
5 Toastmasters also provide the opportunity to develop listening skills which are of paramount importance to move ahead. Only by listening well, can we pick up what’s good and what’s erroneous and improve accordingly. The habit to listen well bodes well in business. Toastmasters are required to evaluate the project speeches of fellow members at the meeting so listening skills are gradually enhanced. The opportunity to evaluate and encourage others all lead to remarkable personal growth.
I feel that I am a testament to this growth after 35 years of being a Toastmaster. My thinking has more clarity, my speeches have more structure and appropriate choice of words, and my demeanor is more confident. We witness this amazing change in new members after they have completed a certain number of project speeches. After that, it is all uphill growth and maturity.
6 Toastmasters present an amazing opportunity to network. Being in a mixed bag so to speak, as members are from diverse backgrounds, we share our experiences and knowledge at each meeting. We learn from each other every time and develop life-long friendships. Some members found passion in other jobs when we got to know each other better.
Many members improved immensely and this was shown in their career paths which have gone north. Understandably, the ability to communicate succinctly helped to spur their careers forward. Who knows of a high-ranking employee who cannot speak?
Toastmasters offer myriad opportunities for improving and developing communication skills, leadership skills, mento-mentee relationships, critical thinking, listening abilities, and plenty of networking chances.
It’s the secret to success in your personal, family, and career. Join a Toastmaster club if you are not a member. If you are, actively participate to benefit more from Toastmasters!