The Truth About Toastmasters
The Truth About Toastmasters
Toastmasters meetings seem so confusing/structured.
A toastmasters meeting can appear to be complicated, confusing and highly structured to a visitor and can remain so for several meetings.
Firstly, let’s address the complication: most things that you first come across can appear complex upon first viewing.
This is the nature of learning.
There is mild or major confusions initially and as you become more familiar with the subject you get more comfortable with the way things work. And often you wonder in hindsight what was so confiding in the first place!
Think of driving a car for the first time. There were so many things to remember and to do and you probably doubted that you would ever get there. But you did, and I’m guessing that you are completely unaware of the process of driving now.
There is a reason for the structure.
Toastmasters is not just about speaking and not just about giving ‘toasts’ which in contemporary times is probably rare. It certainly is in Australia.
Other than better communication a major drive of Toastmasters as an organization is towards better leadership – and goodness knows, we can all benefit from that.
Yes, the meeting has an agenda
A meeting has an agenda so that we all know what will eventuate, how long we should speak or conduct business and thus giving us the opportunity to cover everything that has been planned and to improve when things don’t go to plan.
Sometimes events run over or under time, and the opportunity is presented to manage, and return to the timings on the agenda. An agenda creates the opportunity for planning rather than just ‘winging’ it.
Leadership does not involve winging it.
Do I have to speak?
While most speeches (think ‘talks’) are in the region of 5-7 minutes you will have the opportunity during your membership to speak for longer.
Toastmasters work through a large variety of manuals which cover an infinite range of situations, topics and lengths.
It is only reasonable to assume though that a Toastmasters meeting will not present the opportunity to practice your 45-minute keynote address at every meeting. It would not be fair to expect that. However, you will be given ample opportunity to test parts of it.
And to be honest, I can’t imagine any better opportunity than a Toastmasters meeting for refining a longer talk other than a specific and highly priced workshop specifically designed for that purpose.
Both may be of value if that’s where your needs lay.
Speeches range from well, a speech – one way talking, to a coaching scenario to a facilitation type presentation. It’s up to you. Do you have to speak? Well, you are not forced to speak but we are here to support you in your journey.
You came here to do something, didn’t you?!
I’m afraid of being judged
We don’t judge.
Well, that’s not entirely true, we do have contests from time to time (which are NOT mandatory) and of course, there are judges present.
In general, nobody is judging you. You will be given ample and appropriate feedback on what was great and what possibilities for improvement present themselves.
Surely you want to improve your presence, confidence, and communication and leadership skill?
I am not in business
There are a huge number of clubs that cater to all tastes.
There are clubs in the city that have quick meeting at lunchtime and are of a business orientation; there are clubs that meet in the mornings or evenings that are full of people in business or with no one in business at all.
There are specific interest clubs (like a corporate, internal club) and there are people who attend from all walks of life with a rich diversity of interests. And there are advanced clubs. People of all ages attend.
I’m still confused!
Of course. Reading about something is not learning.
You are encouraged to visit clubs several times before deciding. If you feel that the club is too rigid, or judgmental or just plain not welcoming –run.
And go find another club.
Don’t feel pressured to sign up but also realize that it can take a while to feel confident in a new situation.
And that’s what we are all about