Don’t let the name fool you. Toastmasters International is a lot more than giving toasts and it’s a lot more than speaking in front of a group of people.
Becoming a Toastmaster can literally change your life. It can help you both academically and in your career. There is a great misconception about the organization. Many think that. . . “well since I rarely, or never, speak in front of a group of people why would I ever want to become a Toastmaster?” Look around you at the most successful people you know. I guarantee that some of them are either Toastmasters now or have been in the past. I also guarantee that they are great communicators and also very likely great leaders. It is impossible to sum up all the benefits of becoming a Toastmaster in one word but if I had to do it, that word would be improvement. Maybe as a second word I would give communication or leadership.
There is no successful leader that isn’t a good communicator. In order for people to follow you they must know where you are going, your vision. Toastmasters come from all walks of life and I challenge you to find someone who has spent at least a year of his or her life as a ToastMaster that will NOT tell you that they have gained in numerous ways and have seen the benefits in their every day life. I can still remember one of the very first presentations that I ever gave. I was in grade 5 and very nervous. That was a long time ago and I was quite young but many adults feel like a grade schooler again when they have to speak in front of a group. Actually, I’m still somewhat nervous before I start to speak but within seconds that nervousness is gone and replaced with confidence and poise. If I could, I would create a Toastmasters club in every high school and I would require grade 10 students to attend for at least one semester.
Although every thing we do at a meeting is related to speaking, preparing a speech and presenting it is only one piece of the puzzle. All members support each other via the various roles that we perform at each and every meeting and also behind the scenes. Toastmasters learn how to become better at critical thinking, analyzing and giving constructive advice in order to help other people to improve themselves. We learn to lead, to follow, and work as a team.
In the business world there are presentations and meetings taking place every day. Many are not conducted very well, unless of course they’re done by an experienced Toastmaster. Conducting a meeting of three people or 30 in an efficient and productive manner is easier said than done. It’s just one more of the many things that Toastmasters improve upon just by showing up and participating in the meetings.
There are a myriad of courses given by many different companies and organizations around the world to help you become a better speaker or leader but I firmly believe that none of them have the track record of Toastmasters International. Not one organization has helped so many people in so many different ways. Everyone at the meeting is there to help others and to improve themselves.
The cost vs. value ratio has no equal. No, it’s not free, although some clubs are close to free because they have venues that are free or cost very little. However, even clubs that charge a small fee to cover their basic costs are incredibly inexpensive compared to the value. There is no organization that I can think of that offers as much as any Toastmasters club for as “little” as the average annual dues charged by a typical club.
If you’re the kind of person who wants to improve themselves (and the fact that you’re reading this page makes me think you are) then you really owe it to yourself to visit a Toastmasters International club or two. If possible, take the time to speak with a few members and ask them what they’ve received from their club and about their experiences. Ask them for examples of how it has improved their careers or academic lives. You’ll be amazed and glad you came.
VP PR Foothills Toastmasters 2012-2013