Toastmasters is perhaps the greatest organisation on the face of the planet. I am consistently amazed at what this organisation does. Its goal has always been to help people become better communicators. After 95 years in existence it is still going strong, with a massive bright future ahead. Most of all, it pleases me to think of all the people in the future it will continue to develop and grow.
However, sometimes people don’t get the full value of Toastmasters for whatever reason.
I know that I started getting much more value from it when my mindset shifted. So I want to list just a few things you can do to get the most out of your Toastmaster journey.
1 Fail, Fail and then Fail some more
Toastmaster is a safe space. You can get up on stage and fail as many times as you want. That’s the great thing about it. It allows you to make mistakes and learn from them. It gives you the opportunity to discover your own voice and develop it.
Having said that, it implies that perfectionism is the enemy of progress, and nothing could be more true. Trying to craft the perfect speech is just going to waste time. Trying to memorize the speech will not make you comfortable on stage. Trying to sound like someone else will not strengthen your voice.
But being on stage is the only thing that really makes you a better public speaker.
Perhaps the biggest thing that you can learn by being on stage is how to overcome fear of the stage. To overcome the fear of being on stage requires you to fail on stage. When enough of that happens, that’s when you begin to relax on stage and start focusing on whats important; your audience.
2 Perform all the Roles
At first glance you might get the impression that Toastmasters is about giving speeches. However it’s much bigger than that. There are many roles that are designed for all levels of skill, and to help run the meeting. Performing the different roles gives you the ability to see where your communication style fits in.
When I started I would struggle over crafting and delivering the best possible speech and I wouldn’t even try out the roles. This was not helpful. Doing a timekeeper role seemed too easy and doing the Toastmaster of Day role seemed way too daunting.
However now having been compelled to perform all roles, I actually found out that I prefer the Toastmaster of the day role. Can you imagine that! The role that terrifies most people, the MC role, is something I prefer these days.
As a matter fact I prefer doing the big roles because you can improvise, gloss over mistakes and just plain have more fun with it.
Perform all the roles including all the difficult ones and you’ll find what resonates with you. This will go a long way in helping you commit to being on stage more often.
3 Consistency : Never miss a meeting
I love drawing because it doesn’t matter if I haven’t drawn in days, weeks or years, the second I pick up a pencil all my skill is still as fresh as ever.
This however is not the case with the public speaking. If you skip a week, your skill starts to diminish very quickly. That life time of stage fear comes creeping back in. Those niggling doubts start nipping at you confidence and all of a sudden you’re back to square one.
You have to keep practicing public speaking until you’ve internalised that skill, until its a part of you, until the stage fear is caged. The only way to do that is to keep speaking every single week. Even if you have no speech prepared, then do a role. Even if there aren’t any roles, then do a tables topics sessions. Even if there’s nothing to do, then just hang out and chat with the people and learn by observing.
Partake meaningfully in every single meeting and guaranteed, you will see success.
I started off this post by saying that Toastmasters is the greatest organisation on the face of the planet. I completely believe this. No other organisation delivers real value to so many people across the world.
The responsibility then falls to us to ensure that we make the most of this fantastic opportunity. It falls to us to commit to tackling our fear of the stage and making ourselves powerful communicators. The freedom to manifest your voice is a powerful one, and it’s a freedom we should all have.
These were some of my ideas of how to get the most out of Toastmasters, and I’d very keen to hear of your ideas.
What do you think are the best ways to get the most out of Toastmasters?